Ukraine Military

Ukraine is a large Eastern European country located between Russia and Belarus and is known for its strong military and defense. The Armed Forces of Ukraine is the military branch of the country and consists of five branches: Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Force, Air Defence Artillery, and Special Operations Forces. The total active personnel stands at around 250,000 with an additional reserve force of around 200,000 personnel. Ukraine has a moderate defense budget compared to its GDP as it spends about 4% of its GDP on defense. The country imports weapons from countries such as China, Russia, United States, Germany and France. Ukraine also has strong ties with other countries in the region such as Poland which allows them to cooperate militarily when needed. As a result of this strong military presence in the region Ukraine has become an important regional player in security issues and is able to maintain peace and stability within Eastern Europe effectively. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Ukraine.


The defense has been as a result of reductions in accordance with the CFE Treaty and savings (compare Paris Charter) slowed down from 387 000 to 130 000 (2013). The defense is based equally on general military duty with an initial service of 18 months (Navy 24 months) and contracted soldiers.

All Russian forces left Ukraine in connection with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but through a 1997 agreement, the Russian Federation has hired a naval base/ command site protected by a naval infantry regiment in Crimea (Sevastopol). Based on this, in February 2014, the Russian Federation annexed the whole of Crimea including the Ukrainian bases. To see related acronyms about this country, please check AbbreviationFinder where you can see that UKR stands for Ukraine.

Ukraine Army

For economic reasons, the training activities in the Ukrainian defense had been low for many years. This probably contributed to the fact that some of the Ukrainian officers who were in Crimea when Russian troops took control of the peninsula were persuaded to go into Russian service.

The army, 65,000 men, is under reorganization and is built around three armored and mechanized brigades with 3,300 tanks, of which a few hundred are modern. The Air Force, 45,000 men, has 221 aircraft at its disposal, most of which are modern. For the Navy, the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea became a disaster as 12,000 of a total of 15,450 people were based in Sevastopol. Twelve of Ukraine’s 17 major vessels and several smaller ones, as well as several aircraft belonging to the Navy, were seized by the Russian forces. The reserves amount to one million men with military training from the last five years. Some of the equipment is relatively modern and of Soviet origin. The border guard and the coast guard are not part of the military organization.

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Ukrainian companies, mainly located in the eastern part of the country, have been major suppliers of engines for Russian helicopters, aircraft and ships for military purposes and some other defense equipment. The expansion of the Russian defense in the 2010s requires the import of thousands of engines from Ukraine and is also of great importance to Ukraine’s economy. After the annexation of Crimea, exports have been frozen by the Ukrainian authorities. What will happen in the longer term is a sensitive issue for both countries.

Defense costs decreased in 1996-2012 from 3.0% to 2.8% of GDP. Following the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea, the goal is to raise the level to 3.4%. Ukraine has contributed to the UN peacekeeping operation with soldiers in several countries in former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Africa.

Ukraine’s military forces consist of both conscripts and professionals. Military duty with first-time service is 18 months in the Army and Air Force, and 24 months in the Navy. The military service was terminated by President Yanukovych in 2013, but reintroduced by Acting President Turchynov in 2014 in connection with the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine has fluctuated between maintaining its alliance-free status and closer ties with NATO. In 1994, the country joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

In March 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and since then Ukraine has been in an ongoing military conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass region east of the country. In April 2014, the Ukrainian authorities coordinated their efforts in an anti-terror operation (known as the abbreviation ATO). The fighting has led to huge losses of both military and civilian lives, while hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.

The total force figures for Ukraine’s armed forces are 209,000 active personnel, with a reserve of 900,000 personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, there are about 88,000 semi-military forces, of which about 42,000 are border guards and about 46,000 are in the National Guard.


The army has a strength of 145,000 active personnel. Materials include 854 tanks (720 T-64, 100 T-72, 28 T-80 and six T-84), 548 clearing wagons, 1137 storm tanks, 338 armored personnel vehicles and 635 self-propelled artillery (70 of which are self-propelled artillery). In addition, the Army has heavy artillery, short-range ballistic missiles, long-range air defense missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and about 60 helicopters, of which about 35 are Mi-24 combat helicopters.

Air Force

The Air Force has a strength of 45,000 active personnel. Material comprising 71 fighters (37 MiG-29 and 34 Su-27), 14 tactical bomber of a Su-24, 31 attack aircraft of the type Su-25, 12 Surveillance and reconnaissance, 30 transport, 32 trainers and 46 helicopters. The Air Force also has long range missile defense missiles.

In addition, airborne forces of about 8,000 active personnel come, equipped with, among others, 75 storm tanks and 180 armored personnel vehicles.

The Navy

The Navy has a force of 11,000 active personnel, including a naval infantry of about 2,000 personnel. The fleet includes one frigate, one corvette, six patrol vessels, one minesweeper, two landings and ten auxiliary vessels. In addition, the Navy has an air component with eight helicopters.

International operations

In 2018, Ukraine participated in NATO operations in Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support) with eleven personnel, and in Kosovo (KFOR) with 40 personnel.

Ukraine also participated in UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) with 255 personnel and eight observers, and with observers and a small number of personnel in Kosovo (UNMIK), Sudan (UNISFA) and South Sudan (UNMISS).