Starshina (Russian: старшина, IPA: [stərʂɨˈna] (listen) or Starshyna in Ukrainian transliteration) is a senior non-commissioned rank or designation in the military forces of some Slavic states, and a historical military designation.

Group of Soviet soldiers, in the foreground starshina with appropriate insignia introduced in 1943 (Bulgaria, 1944).

In army terminology, a starshina is equivalent to "Sergeant Major"[1] (Most senior member at the company level) or a rank equal to a NATO OR-8. In naval terminology, starshina is a general term for junior and middle-ranking non-commissioned officers, similar in usage to "Petty Officer".

The word originates from the Russian: старший, romanizedstarshij, lit.'older, more senior', from Russian: старый, romanizedstaryj, lit.'old'.

Cossack HetmanateEdit

Among Cossacks in Ukraine, starshyna was a collective noun for categories of military officers and state officials. It derived from the offices in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sharshyna was subdivided into:

  • General Starshyna (Генеральна старшина), headed by Hetman (or Quartermaster General as acting Hetman)
    • Quartermaster General
    • Judge General
    • Secretary General
    • Adjutant General
    • Treasurer General
    • Ensign General
    • Bunchuk General
  • Regimental (Polkova) Starshyna, headed by Polkovnyk (Colonel)
    • Regimental Obozni (Quartermaster) (Ukrainian: Полковий обозний) – first Deputy Colonel. He was in charge of artillery and fortress fortifications. In the absence of a colonel he replaced him, but he was not authorized to issue universal orders (as opposed to the commanding colonel).
    • Regimental Judge (Ukrainian: Полковий суддя) – was in charge of a civil court in the ratusha
    • Regimental Osavul (Ukrainian: Полковий осавул) – assistant Colonel in Military Affairs
    • Regimental Khorunzhy (Ukrainian: Полковий хорунжий) – commander of the "Khorunzhy Cossacks", guarding the colonel and the starshina. He was in charge of regimental music and was responsible for keeping the khorugv (regiment flag).
    • Regimental Chancellor (Ukrainian: Полковий писар) – secretaries at the ratusha. One was in charge of military affairs, and the other of civilian affairs.
  • Starshyna of Hundred (Sotenna) – headed by Sotnyk
    • Sotenny otaman (Ukrainian: Сотенний отаман) – the deputy sotnik, implemented the duties of an obozni and a judge on a sotnia level
    • Sotenny Osavul (Ukrainian: Сотенний осавул) – assistant sotnik in military affairs
    • Sotenny Khorunzhy (Ukrainian: Сотенний хорунжий) – headed the sotnias flags
    • Sotenny Chancellor (Ukrainian: Сотенний писар) – a secretary
  • Junior Starshyna (Молодша старшина) – headed by Otaman

Later, sometime after the Khmelnytsky's Uprising, it was also associated with the Ukrainian nobility which derived out of the officership and the Hetman.


Imperial RussiaEdit

Later, in the Tsardom of Russia and Imperial Russia, a volostnoy starshina was the chief of a volost (a rural administrative unit), in charge of the distribution of taxes, resolving conflicts within obshchina (communes), distributing community lands and military conscription. The rank of Voiskovoi starshina (Войсковой старшина – Starshina of the Army (Host)) was introduced into the ranks of the Imperial military in 1826, as the equivalent of a "Lieutenant Colonel" in the Cossack cavalry.

Soviet Union and Russian FederationEdit

Army and air force insignia
Country  Russia
Service branch  Russian Ground Forces
  Russian Air Force
Rank groupNon-commissioned officer
Next higher rankPraporshchik
Next lower rankStárshy serzhánt
Equivalent ranksGlavny starshina of the ship

The word starshina gained its modern meaning in the Red Army, and is a hangover from the functional titles (like "Brigade Commander" or "Assistant Platoon Leader") that were initially used by that force – the word literally means "senior". Most functional titles in the Red Army were abolished in 1942, but starshina remained. Starshina was the highest non-commissioned rank in the Soviet Army until the reintroduction of the imperial rank of Praporshchik in 1972.

In the Soviet Navy, the term starshina was introduced between 1940 and 1943 as term equivalent to "Petty Officer" for every enlisted seaman above "Matros, 1st class." There was also created a rank equal to starshina in the Army, but termed Glavnyy korabel'nyy starshina (transl. Chief Petty Officer of the Ship) – this is the naval rank depicted in the tables below.

Insignia in the Red Army (1919–1946) and Soviet Armed Forces (1946–1991)Edit

(1919–1924) collar
collar insignia
collar insignia
Ground combat troops
Ground forces
Air force,
airborne forces,
air defence forces
Air force, airborne forces

Insignia in the Russian FederationEdit

Russian Federation
Strategic Missile Troops,

Airborne Forces (service dress)

Ground Forces
(service dress)

(dress uniform)

Air Force and Airborne Forces

kursant ("cadet") with rank of Starshina
(dress uniform)

Field dress
Air force, airborne forces
Internal troops
Ministry of Emergency Situations (firefighters)
Militsiya, police,

some internal troops

(dress uniform)
(after 2010)


Language variantsEdit

In some former communist state, the rank of "older" is used with the local language variants.

Naval variantsEdit


  1. ^ "Military Rank / Russian Federation".
  2. ^ "Указ Президента Республики Беларусь от 21.07.2009 N 388 "О военной форме одежды, знаках различия по воинским званиям и внесении дополнений в Указ Президента Республики Беларусь от 9 июня 2006 г. N 383"". (in Russian). Government of Belarus. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  3. ^ "ЗАКОН ЗА ОТБРАНАТА И ВЪОРЪЖЕНИТЕ СИЛИ НА РЕПУБЛИКА БЪЛГАРИЯ". (in Bulgarian). Глава седма. ВОЕННА СЛУЖБА. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Кыргыз Республикасынын жарандарынын жалпыга бирдей аскердик милдети жөнүндө, аскердик жана альтернативдик кызматтар жөнүндө". (in Kyrgyz). Ministry of Justice (Kyrgyzstan). 9 February 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 11 марта 2010 года № 293 "О военной форме одежды, знаках различия военнослужащих и ведомственных знаках отличия"". (in Russian). Российской газеты. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  6. ^ "ҚОНУНИ ҶУМҲУРИИ ТОҶИКИСТОН ДАР БОРАИ ЎҲДАДОРИИ УМУМИИ ҲАРБӢ ВА ХИЗМАТИ ҲАРБӢ". (in Tajik). The National Assembly of the Republic of Tajikistan. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  7. ^ "TÜRKMENISTANYŇ KANUNY Harby borçlulyk we harby gulluk hakynda (Türkmenistanyň Mejlisiniň Maglumatlary 2010 ý., № 3, 58-nji madda) (Türkmenistanyň 01.10.2011 ý. № 234-IV Kanuny esasynda girizilen üýtgetmeler we goşmaçalar bilen)" [LAW OF TURKMENISTAN On military service and military service (Information of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, 2010, No. 3, Article 58) (as amended by the Law of Turkmenistan of October 1, 2011 No. 234-IV)] (PDF). (in Turkmen). Ministry of Defense (Turkmenistan). pp. 28–29. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  8. ^ "ԶԻՆՎՈՐԱԿԱՆ ԾԱՌԱՅՈՒԹՅԱՆ ԵՎ ԶԻՆԾԱՌԱՅՈՂԻ ԿԱՐԳԱՎԻՃԱԿԻ ՄԱՍԻՆ". (in Armenian). Legal information system of Armenia. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  9. ^ Chief of General Staff (25 November 2019). "Order of the Chief of the General Staff: Number A / 595". (in Mongolian). pp. 20–26. Retrieved 18 September 2021.