The author considers the problem of the emergence of Russian military special forces. It is emphasized that the overwhelming majority of specialists trying to investigate the history of military special units do not advance deeper than the Petrine era. The point of view of some historians who claim that military special forces appeared in Russia not earlier than 1701, being borrowed from the West, is declared untenable. The article examines the most ancient written references to actions in the composition of the Russian troops special forces units. Investigated the continuity of military special forces in the twentieth century. An overview of such military units since 1701 is given. The author found that the first written mention of the Russian military special forces dates back to 1128. It must be understood that in reality the special forces history must be traced at least from the 11th century, since sufficient time was needed for the formation and development of special units. In the chronicles of XII c. found three references to military units, which are the prototype of the later military special forces. Until the middle of XIII c. special forces existed in the armies of all Russian principalities, while for the period of XIII-XV centuries they are documented only in Veliky Novgorod. It is from the structure of the Old Russian military special forces, according to the author, the famous Novgorod ushkuynik movement emerges. This article allows you to add a number of interesting pages in the glorious military history of our Fatherland.