How Ukraine’s armed forces shape up against Russia’s

armed forces are heavily outnumbered and outgunned by Russia’s but military
experts say they would be capable of mounting significant resistance and
inflicting heavy casualties if Russia were to launch a large-scale invasion
after massing troops near the border.

army is also better trained and equipped than in 2014, when Russia captured the
Crimea peninsula from Ukraine without a fight, and is widely seen as highly
motivated to defend the country’s heartland.

Here are
some details of Ukraine’s military.


In terms of
manpower and weapons, the arithmetic looks grim for Ukraine.

military experts’ estimates put the number of Russian troops near Russia’s
border with Ukraine at around 100,000 although Moscow says it is not planning
an invasion. Russia has also moved some troops to Belarus, north of Ukraine,
for military drills.

army has about 280,000 personnel and its combined armed forces total about
900,000, while its 2,840 battle tanks outnumber Ukraine’s by more than three to
one, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic
Studies (IISS).

prime minister said the decree signed by Zelenskiy – on priority measures to
strengthen the state’s defence capabilities, increase the attractiveness of
military service and the gradual transition to a professional army – would
eventually bring Ukraine’s armed forces to 361,000 personnel.

Ukraine trebled its defence budget in real terms from 2010 to 2020, its total
defence expenditure in 2020 amounted to only $4.3 billion, or one-tenth of

analysts say Ukraine’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defences are weak,
leaving it highly vulnerable to Russian strikes on its critical infrastructure.
They say Russia would also seek to use its superiority in electronic warfare to
paralyse its adversary’s command and control and cut off communications with
units in the field.

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forces have gained combat experience in the Donbass region in the east of the
country, where they have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014,
and are highly motivated.

They also
have short-range air defences and anti-tank weaponry, including US-supplied
Javelin missiles, which would help to slow any Russian advance.

Beyond the
regular army, Ukraine has volunteer territorial defence units and around
900,000 reservists. Most adult males have at least basic military training, so
Russia could find itself facing stubborn and protracted resistance if it tried
to capture and hold on to territory.

The military
challenge would be incomparably higher than in previous wars Russia has fought
since the Soviet Union’s collapse, including in breakaway Chechnya in the 1990s
and against Georgia in 2008.


Western countries
have stepped up arms deliveries to Ukraine, but Kyiv says it needs more. The
United States has ruled out sending US troops to Ukraine to fight.

The United
States has provided over $2.5 billion in military aid since 2014, including
Javelin anti-tank missiles, coastal patrol boats, Humvees, sniper rifles,
reconnaissance drones, radar systems, night vision and radio equipment. A
bipartisan group of US senators has promised further supplies that could
include Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, small arms and boats.

Turkey has
sold Kyiv several batches of Bayraktar TB2 drones that it deployed against
Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

supplied Ukraine with a reported 2,000 short-range anti-tank missiles in
January and sent British specialists to deliver training. It has also provided
Saxon armoured vehicles.

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Estonia said
it was sending Javelin anti-armour missiles and Latvia and Lithuania are
providing Stinger missiles. The Czech Republic has said it plans to donate
152mm artillery ammunition.

Germany has
ruled out arms deliveries to Ukraine but is co-financing a $6-million field
hospital and providing training.


military analysts say this would be unlikely because it would involve a long
and messy war with unavoidably heavy casualties. They expect Russia to opt for
crushing air strikes and/or limited land grabs rather than all-out war
including battles for major cities.

One option
would be for Russia to push south and west from the Donbass region of east
Ukraine, already controlled by pro-Russian forces, to link up with annexed
Crimea and the Black Sea. There is also a possibility that troops taking part
in the military drills in Belarus could cross Ukraine’s northern border as part
of any attack.

Putin would
be likely to face qualms from his own public about waging war on a fellow Slav
nation, as well as intense anti-Russian sentiment within Ukraine. He has also
been warned by the West that Russia will be hit with unprecedented sanctions if
it attacks Ukraine.

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