Ukrainian Armed Forces
Збройні сили України (Ukrainian)
Emblem of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Flag of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Founded29 March 1917; 107 years ago (1917-03-29)
Current form6 December 1991; 32 years ago (1991-12-06)[1]
Service branches Territorial Defense Forces[3]
Unmanned Systems Forces[4]
HeadquartersMinistry of Defence Building, Povitrianykh Syl Avenue, Kyiv
Websitewww.mil.gov.ua/en/
Leadership
Supreme Commander-in-Chief President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Minister of Defence Rustem Umerov
Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi
Personnel
Military age18[5]
Conscription12–18 months (depending on branches)
Active personnel1,250,000+ (2024)[6]
Reserve personnel2,500,000 (2024)[7]
Expenditure
Budget$64,8 billion 2,4 trillion (2024)[8] foreign military aid
Percent of GDP37% (2024)[8]
Industry
Domestic suppliersUkrainian Defense Industry
Foreign suppliers United States
 United Kingdom
 Bulgaria
 Canada
 Denmark

 Norway
 Romania
 Australia
 New Zealand
 Poland
 Germany
 France
 Lithuania
 Latvia
 Estonia
 Czech Republic
 Italy
 Finland
 Sweden
 Spain
 Israel
 Turkey
 NATO
 European Union
 South Korea
 Republic of China (Taiwan)[a]
 Japan
 Thailand
 United Arab Emirates
 Saudi Arabia

 Serbia
Related articles
History
RanksMilitary ranks of Ukraine

The Armed Forces of Ukraine[b] (abbreviated as AFU)[c] are the military forces of Ukraine. All military and security forces, including the Armed Forces, are under the command of the President of Ukraine and subject to oversight by a permanent Verkhovna Rada parliamentary commission. They trace their lineage to 1917, while the modern armed forces were formed after Ukrainian independence in 1991. As of 2024, it is the sixth largest and one of the best-funded armed forces in the world.[9] The Ukrainian Armed Forces also operates one of the largest and most diverse drone fleet in the world.[10] The Ukrainian Armed Forces is one of the most battle-hardened armed forces in the world.[11]

Ukraine's armed forces are composed of the Ground Forces, the Air Force, the Navy, the Air Assault Forces, the Marine Corps, the Special Operations Forces, and the Territorial Defense Forces.[12] Ukraine's navy includes its own Naval Aviation. The Sea Guard is the coast guard service of Ukraine, and it is organized as part of the Border Guard Service, not subordinate to the navy. The National Guard serves as a paramilitary reserve component of the Armed Forces.

Military units of other countries have participated regularly in multinational military exercises in Ukraine.[13] Many of these exercises have been held under the NATO cooperation program Partnership for Peace. As of 2024, with over $400 billion in foreign military aid in addition to being one of the best-funded armed forces in the world, the Soviet era military equipments of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are fast being replaced with vast amounts of NATO standard military equipments.[14]

History

See also: Ukrainian People's Army

The formation of the national armed forces in the modern sense dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century and coincides with the formation of the modern Ukrainian nation. In official history, this period is referred to as the "Ukrainian War of Independence" or the "First Liberation Struggle." This process coincided with the end of the First World War and the subsequent collapse of great European empires from previous centuries. The forerunner event was the creation of national military formations in the Imperial and Royal Armies of Austria-Hungary, namely the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, on which Ukrainian paramilitary organizations in Galicia were based: Sich Sports and Fire Brigade, "Sokil" and the national scout organization "Plast".[citation needed][15]

After the upheavals of World War I and on the verge of the collapse of empires, the Ukrainians tried again to return to sovereign statehood. As part of the growing disintegration in the ranks of the Russian Imperial Army, national units began to form. After the Bolshevik coup, hybrid warfare broke with the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the White Guard. During the undeclared war, the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic had already formed, but its formation was interrupted by the German administration. It continued in a limited form after the establishment of Hetman of Ukraine Pavlo Skoropadskyi's Ukrainian State, known as the [Second] Hetmanate. The national armed forces continued to develop. The Armed Forces of the Ukrainian state were planned in a more systematic way than in previous versions, although previous development was used in this process, and many mistakes were also made.[16]

Uprisings against the Hetmanate's rule eventually resulted, and the reorientation of the Central Powers who lost in World War I against the Entente, which in turn supported the White Guard movement and the Russian Empire as its original ally.[citation needed]

Simultaneously with these events, after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917, numerous military formations were formed on Ukrainian lands, including detachments of the Free Cossacks, Father Makhno's Ukrainian Insurgent Army,[17] and the Bolshevik Red Cossacks. The latter became the basis of the puppet armed forces of the UkrSSR, and after the occupation of the Ukrainian People's Republic were included in the Red Army. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the Ukrainian Galician Army came to the defense of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic, based on the formation of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen of the former Austro-Hungarian Army.[18]

During World War II, Ukrainians tried to regain independence and organized armed units and formations, including the Ukrainian Insurgent Army,[19] but all of them were destroyed by Soviet authorities[20] within a few years after the war, and Ukrainians were again forced to serve in the Soviet Armed Forces.[citation needed][21]

Origins of the post-1992 Ukrainian Armed Forces

By 1992, the Ukrainian Armed Forces had been completely inherited from the Soviet Union, in which Ukraine had been a member state (a union republic). Like other Soviet republics, it did not possess its own separate military command, as all military formations were uniformly subordinated to the central command of the Soviet Armed Forces. Administratively, the Ukrainian SSR was divided into three Soviet military districts (the Carpathian Military District, Kyiv Military District, and Odesa Military District). Three Soviet air commands and most of the Black Sea Fleet naval bases were located on the coast of Ukraine. Majority of the officers were educated in Soviet educational institutions, many of them which came under the AFU, what is now the Ivan Bohun High School was actually a Soviet-established institution.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the newly independent state of Ukraine inherited one of the most powerful force groupings in Europe. According to an associate of the Conflict Studies Research Centre, James Sherr: "This grouping, its inventory of equipment and its officer corps was designed for one purpose: to wage combined arms, coalition, offensive (and nuclear) warfare against NATO on an external front".[22] At that time, the former Soviet armed forces in the Ukrainian SSR included the 43rd Rocket Army, the 5th, 14th 17th and 24th Air Armies of the Soviet Air Forces, an air-defense army (8th Air Defence Army), three regular armies, two tank armies, the 32nd Army Corps, and the Black Sea Fleet.[23] Altogether the Armed Forces of Ukraine included about 780,000 personnel, 6,500 battle tanks, [citation needed], about 7,000 armored vehicles, 1,500 combat aircraft, and more than 350 ships of the former Soviet Navy. Along with their equipment and personnel, Ukraine's armed forces inherited the battle honors and lineage of the Soviet military forces stationed in Ukraine, as well as Guards unit titles for many formations. However, due to the deterioration of Russian-Ukrainian relations and the continued stigma of being associated with the Soviet Union, in 2015 President Poroshenko ordered the removal of most of the citations awarded during the Soviet era to formations of the Armed Forces and other uniformed organizations.[24]

In February 1991, a parliamentary Standing Commission for Questions of Security and Defense was established. On 24 August 1991, the Ukrainian parliament (the Verkhovna Rada), in adopting the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, also enacted a short resolution "About military formations in Ukraine".[25] This took jurisdiction over all formations of the armed forces of the Soviet Union stationed on Ukrainian soil and established one of the key agencies, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.[26] On 3 September 1991, the Ministry of Defence commenced its duties. On 22 October 1991 units and formations of the Soviet Armed Forces on Ukrainian soil were nationalized.[27] Subsequently, the Supreme Council of Ukraine adopted two Laws of Ukraine on 6 December 1991 regarding the creation of the Armed Forces (this is marked as Armed Forces Day),[28][29] and Presidential Decree #4 "About Armed Forces of Ukraine" on 12 December 1991.[30] The government of Ukraine surrendered any rights of succession to the Soviet Strategic Deterrence Forces[31] (see Strategic Missile Troops) that were staged on the territory of Ukraine. Recognizing the complications of a smooth transition and seeking a consensus with other former members of the Soviet Union in dividing up their Soviet military inheritance, Ukraine joined ongoing talks that started in December 1991[32] regarding a joint military command of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[33]

Inherent in the process of creating a domestic military were political decisions by the Ukrainian leadership regarding the country's non-nuclear and international status. Among these were the definition, agreement, and ratification of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which not only established the maximum level of armament for each republic of the former USSR, but also a special ceiling for the so-called CFE "Flank Region" – included in this region were Ukraine's Mykolaiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Another key event in the development of the Ukrainian military was the 1992 Tashkent Treaty, which laid out aspirations for a Commonwealth of Independent States military. However, this collective military proved impossible to develop because the former republics of the USSR all wished to go their own way, ripping the intricate Soviet military machine into pieces.

Ukraine had observer status with the Non-Aligned Movement of nation-states from 1996.[34] However, due to the 2014 Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada repealed this status in December 2014.[35]

Arms control and disarmament

A Tu-22M being dismantled through assistance provided by the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program implemented by the DTRA, 2002

See also: Nuclear weapons and Ukraine

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited two divisions of the Strategic Rocket Forces' 43rd Rocket Army (HQ Vinnytsia):

An SS-20 on display at the World War II Museum in Kyiv

Ukraine voluntarily gave up these and all other nuclear weapons during the early 1990s. This was the first time in history that a country voluntarily gave up the use of strategic nuclear weapons, although South Africa was dismantling its small tactical nuclear weapons program at about the same time.

Ukraine had plentiful amounts of highly enriched uranium, which the United States wanted to buy from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology. Ukraine also had two uranium mining and processing factories, a heavy water plant and technology for determining the isotopic composition of fissionable materials. Ukraine possessed deposits of uranium that were among the world's richest. In May 1992, Ukraine signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), in which the country agreed to give up all nuclear weapons and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. Ukraine ratified the treaty in 1994, and as of 1 January 1996, no military nuclear equipment or materials remained on Ukrainian territory nor even were operated by the AFU.

On 13 May 1994, the United States and Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Transfer of Missile Equipment and Technology. This agreement committed Ukraine to the Missile Technology Control Regime F(MTCR) by controlling exports of missile-related equipment and technology according to the MTCR Guidelines.

Ukraine and NATO estimate that 2.5 million tons of conventional ammunition were left in Ukraine as the Soviet military withdrew, as well as more than 7 million rifles, pistols, mortars, and machine guns. The surplus weapons and ammunition were stored in over 180 military bases, including in bunkers, salt mines and in the open.[39] As of 2014, much of this surplus had not been scrapped.[40][41]

Marine of the Ukrainian Marine Corps in a military exercise in Scotland, 2003

Attempt at reforms and constant fund shortages

Ukraine's first military reforms began in December 1996, with the adoption of a new "State Program for the Building and Development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine". One aspect of it was to shrink the standard combat unit from division size to brigade size, which would then fall under the command of one of the three newly created military districts:

The cancellation of the modernization program left a question of how to provide jobs in the military industrial complex which then comprised a double-digit percentage of the GDP. Export of new and modernized weapons on the world's arms markets was settled on as the best option, where Ukraine both tried to undercut the contracts of the Russian arms industry – offering the same service for a cheaper price, and was willing to sell equipment to whoever was willing to pay (more than once to politically unstable or even aggressive regimes), causing negative reactions from both Western Europe and the United States federal government.[45] During this time 320 T-80 tanks were sold to Pakistan and an unfinished Soviet aircraft carrier the Varyag, today known as the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.[46]

Though the military was well-equipped, it still experienced lack of funds particularly for training and exercises, which led to a number of incidents. In one. the Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 of 2001 and the Sknyliv airshow disaster of 2002, but the military's effectiveness was demonstrated in the Tuzla Island Conflict.[citation needed]

Ukrainian Airmobile Forces in 2011

Ukrainian military tactics and organization heavily depended on Cold War tactics and former Soviet Armed Forces organization.[citation needed] Under former President Yushchenko, Ukraine pursued a policy of independence from Russian dominance, and thus tried to fully integrate with the West, specifically NATO.

Ukrainian soldiers talking with a US Army soldier during the Rapid Trident 2011 military exercise

Until the Euromaidan crisis of 2014, Ukraine retained tight military relations with Russia, inherited from their common Soviet history. Common uses for naval bases in the Crimea and joint air defense efforts were the most intense cooperative efforts. This cooperation was a permanent irritant in bilateral relations, but Ukraine appeared economically dependent on Moscow, and thus unable to break such ties quickly. After the election of President Viktor Yanukovych, ties between Moscow and Kyiv warmed, and those between Kyiv and NATO cooled, relative to the Yushchenko years.

Russo-Ukrainian War (2014 – present)

T-64BMs in Eastern Ukraine
Anti-terrorist operation in Eastern Ukraine, 2014

Main articles: Russo-Ukrainian War and Humanitarian situation during the war in Donbas

In March 2014, following the Revolution of Dignity and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, the government of Ukraine announced a new military service, the National Guard of Ukraine. Previously, a National Guard had existed up to 2000, so the 2014 NG was a reformation of the one raised in 1991, but this time formed part of the Internal Troops of Ukraine.

In May 2014, when Russian aggression started in the eastern regions, a helicopter with 14 soldiers on board, including General Serhiy Kulchytskiy, who headed combat and special training for the country's National Guard, was brought down by militants near Sloviansk in East Ukraine. Outgoing President Oleksandr Turchynov described the downing as a "terrorist attack," and blamed pro-Russian militants.[47]

In the early months of the Russo-Ukrainian War, the Armed Forces were widely criticised for their poor equipment and inept leadership, forcing Internal Affairs Ministry forces like the National Guard and the territorial defence battalions to take on the brunt of the fighting in the first months of the war.[48][49]

In late July 2015, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry revealed the new Ukrainian Armed Forces uniform designs, and later a revised rank insignia system was created.[50] These made their national debut on 24 August 2016, at the National Independence Day Silver Jubilee parade in Independence Square, Kyiv.

From the early 1990s, the Armed Forces had numerous units and formations with Soviet Armed Forces decorations dating back to the Second World War or earlier. Due to the decommunization process in Ukraine, all these decorations were removed from unit titles and regimental colours by 15 November 2015 to cease promotion and glorification of the Soviet symbols.[51][24] Ukraine had retained a number of Guards units, also following a Soviet tradition. A list can be seen at List of guards units of Ukraine. On 22 August 2016, the "Guards" titles were removed from all unit and formation names.[52] Only one brigade, the 51st, a former Guards unit, had been dissolved the year before.

By February 2018, the Ukrainian armed forces were larger and better equipped than ever before, numbering 200,000 active-service military personnel and most of the volunteer soldiers of the territorial defence battalions had been integrated into the official Ukrainian army.[53]

In late 2017-early 2018 the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reported that human rights abuses allegedly committed by Ukrainian security forces and armed groups remained an ongoing issue of the war in Donbas that erupted in 2014. The nature of the alleged crimes ranged from unlawful or arbitrary detention to torture, ill-treatment, and sexual violence. Within the reporting period of 16 November 2017 to 15 February 2018 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) monitoring mission documented 115 cases of credible allegations of human rights violations committed by both sides of the conflict since 2014.[54]

On 1 February 2022, the Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) were formed as the new branch of the Armed Forces. The TDF serves as a military reserve force which is formed by volunteers who are mobilized for local defense.[55] The branch is an expansion of the old territorial defence battalions system established in 2014.[55]

Ukraine and NATO membership

Main article: Ukraine–NATO relations

Operators of the Special Operations Forces, an independent branch of the armed forces founded in 2016

Ukraine's stated national policy is Euro-Atlantic integration, with the European Union. Ukraine has a "Distinctive Partnership" with NATO (see Enlargement of NATO) and has been an active participant in Partnership for Peace exercises and in peacekeeping in the Balkans. This close relationship with NATO has been most apparent in Ukrainian cooperation and combined peacekeeping operations with its neighbor Poland in Kosovo. Ukrainian servicemen also served under NATO command in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Operation Active Endeavour.[56][57]

Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko had asked for Ukrainian membership by early 2008.[58][59] During the 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO declared that Ukraine could become a member of NATO at Ukraine's discretion and when it met the criteria for accession.[60]

His successor, Viktor Yanukovych, considered the level of co-operation between Ukraine and NATO sufficient.[60]

Yanukovych, however, opted to keep Ukraine a non-aligned state. This was formalised on June 3, 2010, when the Verkhovna Rada excluded, with 226 votes, the goal of "integration into Euro-Atlantic security and NATO membership" from the country's national security strategy.[61] Amid the Euromaidan unrest, Yanukovych fled Ukraine in February 2014.[62]

Ukrainian Air Assault Forces paratroopers with new modernized equipment

The interim Yatsenyuk Government which came to power, initially said, with reference to the country's non-aligned status, that it had no plans to join NATO.[63]

However, following the Russo-Ukrainian War and parliamentary elections in October 2014, the new government made joining NATO a priority.[64] On 23 December 2014, the Verkhovna Rada renounced Ukraine's non-aligned status[62][65] that "proved to be ineffective in guaranteeing Ukraine's security and protecting the country from external aggression and pressure".[66]

The Ukrainian military is since transforming to NATO standards.[67] Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated early February 2016 that de facto the Armed Forces must, soon as possible, begin its transition for Ukrainian entry into NATO and towards NATO-capable armed forces.[67]

During the Russian buildup on the border in 2021, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a renewed call to Western powers for NATO membership, but was ultimately unsuccessful.[68]

However, following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO military logistical support, including a wide array of arms and ammunition, was rapidly provided by NATO countries, and continued to the present (mid-2024) -- with commitments for its indefinite continuance—and NATO officials and member states' leaders began to declare that Ukraine's eventual membership in NATO was expected following conclusion of the war.[69][70][71][72]

In 2023, Ukraine's defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, described Ukraine as, essentially, a "de facto" member of NATO, with the expectation that "in the near future" Ukraine would become an actual "de jure" member of NATO.[73]

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Main article: 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On Thursday, 24 February 2022, the Russian Armed Forces invaded Ukraine.[74] The Ukrainian Armed Forces and its auxiliary and wartime-affiliated organizations, have participated in many of the combat actions of the current conflict. Alongside the combat actions, the influx of Western weapons and materiel to the Armed Forces from NATO member armed forces, ex-Soviet stock from many Eastern European nations as well as captured Russian tanks, armed vehicles and other weapons[75] have also resulted in an ongoing modernization and expansion of the forces at large.

President Volodymyr Zelensky with the senior leadership of the Ukrainian military in May 2019

As of 2010 the total personnel was 200,000 (including 41,000 civilian workers).[76] Conscription was stopped in October 2013;[77] at that time the Ukrainian armed forces were made up of 40% conscripts and 60% contract soldiers.[77] Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov reinstated conscription in May 2014.[78]

In early 2014, Ukraine had 130,000 personnel in its armed forces, which could be boosted to about one million with reservists.[78][needs update]

There were a reported total of 250,800 personnel in the Armed Forces in 2015.[79] In July 2022, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated that the Armed Forces had an active strength of 700,000; Reznikov also mentioned that with the Border Guard, National Guard, and police added, the total comes to around one million.[80]

Following the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine adopted a military doctrine focusing on defense against Russia and announced Ukraine's intentions for closer relations with NATO armed services, most especially if it joins the organization in the future.[81]

Structure

Main article: Structure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The law 'On the Foundations of National Resistance'[82] establishes the following structure of the Ukrainian Armed Forces:

Army Parade on the occasion of the Independence Day of Ukraine (2018)

Ministry of Defence

The following establishments and institutions fall directly under MoD subordination:[83]

Structures directly subordinated to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence

Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Apparatus, Kyiv

Chief of the General Staff

The Chief of the General Staff oversees the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The following units fall under the direct supervision of the General Staff:

Apparatus [Office] of the Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Kyiv

Office of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Kyiv

Units directly subordinated to the General Staff of the AFU:

Military Educational Establishments and Units (directly under the MoD)

Ukrainian Ground Forces

Ukrainian T-64BM Bulat
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2022)

As of 2016, there were a reported 169,000 personnel in the Ukrainian Ground Forces.[84] The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in massive increases in personnel numbers; Defence Minister Reznikov stated the armed forces had a strength of 700,000 in July 2022, not counting the border guard, national guard, or police.[80] The Ukrainian Ground Forces are divided into Armoured Forces and Mechanized Forces, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence and Rocket and Artillery Troops. There are 13 mechanized brigades and two mountain warfare brigades in the Mechanized Forces. Ukraine also has two armoured brigades. There are also seven rocket and artillery brigades. Until 2013, the Ground Forces were divided into three army corps. These were disbanded in 2013 and reorganized as Operation Command West, Operation Command North and Operation Command South. Operation Command East was formed in 2015 to coordinate forces in the war in Donbas.

Ukrainian Su-25

Ukrainian Air Force

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2022)

In 2016, the Ukrainian Air Force was reported to have included 36,300 personnel.[85][86]

The Air Force is organized into:[citation needed]

Its speciality formations are:

Ukrainian Naval Service

The Krivak III-class frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy; the previous flagship of the Ukrainian Navy[87] before being scuttled in 2022.[88]

Created in 1992 but not definitely organized until 1997, since 2023 the Ukrainian Naval Service under the Armed Forces is constituted in two separate branches, the Marine Corps and Navy.

The Marine Corps structure contains as follows:

The Navy structure is organized as follows:

According to an August 2015 Kyiv Post report, the Ukrainian Navy consisted of 6,500 servicemen, Marine Corps included at that time.[89]

In May 2023, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially announced the separation of the Marine Corps from the Navy and thus declared its independence as a service branch of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.[90]

Air Assault Forces paratroopers

Air Assault and Airborne Forces

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The Ukrainian Air Assault Forces are composed of 8 air landing, air assault and air-mobile brigades and support units. These are high-readiness ground units without air-assets and are considered elite within the armed forces.

Airborne and Air Assault Forces Command (MU А3771), Zhytomyr, Zhytomyr Oblast

Special Forces

Ukraine's special forces are reported as 4,000 strong.[2][needs update]

Special Operations Forces Command[citation needed] (Military Unit [MU] А0987), Kyiv

Ukrainian Special Operation Forces

Communications and Cybernetic Security Forces

The Communications and Cybernetic Security Troops Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (Командування Військ зв'язку та кібернетичної безпеки Збройних Сил України) is a separate joint forces command under the General Staff since 5 February 2020.[91]

Signals and Cybernetic Security Troops Command (MU А0106), Kyiv

training establishments and units

under other services and troops

Support Forces

Since 1 January 2022,[92] the support forces have the status of a separate joint branch under the General Staff.

Support Forces Command (Military Unit Number А2330), Kyiv

Logistical Forces

Since 1 January 2022,[93] support forces have the status of a separate joint branch under the General Staff. The logistical forces are mainly organised in two arms – Armaments and Rear Services.

Logistical Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (MU А0307), Kyiv

Medical Forces

Since January 1, 2022[94] the support forces have the status of a separate joint branch under the General Staff.

Medical Forces Command (MU А0928), Kyiv

Training establishments and units

Medical forces under other services and arms

Military Police

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The military police (named the Military Law Enforcement Service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (Військова служба правопорядку Збройних Сил України), abbreviated VSP (ВСП) in Ukrainian) is a special military service outside General Staff control and subordinated directly to the Ministry of Defense.

Administrative structure:

Personnel

Education and schools

Cadets of the NDUU marching in the 2017 Kyiv Independence Day Parade

A number of universities have specialized military institutes, such as the Faculty of Military Legal Studies at Kharkiv's Yaroslav Mudryi National Law Academy of Ukraine. The primary Ukrainian military academies are:

In addition the Ivan Chernyakhovsky National Defense University of Ukraine is in Kyiv.[95]

The Central Hospital of the Armed Forces is located in Kyiv.[96]

The armed forces' military high school is located in Kyiv – the Ivan Bohun Military High School.

Contract service

In 2017 more than 14 thousand people signed up for contract service with the Armed Forces.[97]

For participating in the war in Donbas, (in May 2017 7.5 thousand) soldiers on the front line receive an average salary of 16,000.[97] The minimum maintenance for a contract soldier is ₴7,000.[97]

West Ukraine supplies the fewest military contractors.[97]

Conscription

Men are conscripted at age 25.[98]

The Soviet Union required all able-bodied male citizens to serve two years in the armed forces (three years if drafted into the navy), although the draft could be postponed due to continued higher education. It was possible to be drafted into non-Ministry of Defense military forces, such as the KGB Border Guards, the Militsiya, or the Internal Troops. When Ukraine gained its independence, it retained the policy of conscription, although the time in service was reduced to 18 months in the navy and one year in all other services. Ukraine also gradually began recruiting professional soldiers, although in almost all cases a person had to serve as a conscript prior to becoming a professional soldier. The Ukrainian Marine Corps was the first service to convert to being staffed by fully professional marines.[citation needed]

In October 2013, President Viktor Yanukovych ended conscription in Ukraine. At the time 60% of Ukraine's forces were composed of professional soldiers.[99] However, due to the Russo-Ukrainian War, conscription, as well as a partial mobilization, was reinstated in 2014.[100] Ukraine modified the age group of males eligible for conscription for 2015 from 18–25 to the 20–27 age group.[101]

After serving out the term of service Ukraine's conscripts become part of the inactive reserve and are eligible to be recalled for mobilization until they reach age 55, age 60 for officers. Due to the war in Donbas, Ukraine has instated a partial mobilization to fill needed positions in its armed forces, recalling conscripts who have served before, because of the war many conscripts have also been forced to serve longer than their original 18-month term of service.[102] It was planned that in 2015 Ukraine would undergo three waves of partial mobilization, this would have allowed new troops to replace those serving longer than their original term of service.[103]

All medical workers in Ukraine, regardless of gender, are eligible to be called up for service in case of a national emergency.[citation needed]

Draft dodging is present in Ukraine, as with most nations using the draft. It was reported that between April and August 2014, over 1,000 criminal inquires into draft evasion were opened in Ukraine.[104] Draft evasion can be problematic because, unless a male citizen was unable to serve for medical reasons, an application to receive an international passport of Ukraine may be denied due to a lack of military service, thus preventing the individual from traveling abroad.[105]

In the autumn of 2016, longer deployment of mobilized servicemen to combat area in the east of Ukraine was ceased.[106]

On 1 February 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the changing of the military training system, leading to the end of conscription by 1 January 2024.[107] By the same date, there would be an increase in the number of professional servicemen by 100,000, to be achieved by better pay, with all military personnel to be guaranteed at least three times the minimum wage, and better housing provision.[108] However, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine upended those plans, along with massive popular mobilization into the Territorial Defence Forces. On 28 February 2022, President Zelenskyy offered release for prisoners with combat experience if they join the fight against Russia.[109]

In April 2024, President Zelensky signed new conscription laws, passed by the national legislature, that lowered the conscription age by two years, from 27 to 25, and made other provisions that would make it easier for the government to conscript eligible persons, and harder for draft dodgers to evade conscription. The laws were controversial, and largely unpopular. Objections included complaints from families of active service personnel who resented that the laws did not ultimately include an initially considered provision to allow soldiers who had served for 36 months in combat to be relieved and returned home. However, the battle conditions—with Russia advancing with overwhelming force—made it impractical, in the view of Ukraine's leaders, to remove any experienced, active troops from service. Officials pledged the relief provision would be considered in future legislation, without stating when.[110][111]

Role of women

Main article: Women in the Ukrainian military

Female military personnel at the Kyiv Independence Day Parade on 24 August 2018

Women have been allowed to serve in combat units since 2016.[112] According to Defense Ministry figures early June 2016 some 49,500 women served in and worked in the Ukrainian military; more than 17,000 were military servicewomen, of which more than 2,000 officers.[112] In 2020, 58,000 women served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.[113] By 2024, that number has increased to 62,000, with at least 5,000 of those in combat roles.[114]

Women have also joined the various volunteer territorial defense battalions before the order for women's integration in the armed forces was enacted.[112] Women are eligible to be drafted into the military as officers.[115] In 2009 women comprised almost 13% of the armed forces (18,000 personnel) but with few females holding high rank (2.9% or 1,202 women).[116] Contractual military service accounted for almost 44% of women. However, this being closely linked to the low salary of such positions: men refuse to serve in these conditions while women accept them.[116]

For the first time in 27 years, a battalion of 120 female military personnel, comprising cadets from the Taras Shevchenko National University Military Institute and the Military Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, participated in the Kyiv Independence Day Parade in August 2018.[117][118] Their appearance as they marched along Khreshchatyk was greeted with loud applause from the spectators.[119]

In September 2018, legislation was passed to make both women and men equal in the military and law enforcement agencies.[120] The following month Liudmyla Shuhalei, the head of the Military Medical Directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine, became Ukraine's first female general.[120] Since 2019, the Ivan Bohun Military High School accepts both male and female cadets. Nadiya Savchenko is perhaps one of the most well-known female Ukrainian soldiers, and was held as a prisoner in Russia from July 2014 until May 2016.[121]

Paramilitary forces

Although not components of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, these militarized institutions are supposed to come under the Armed Forces' command during wartime. Such was the case in the 2022 Russian invasion, as these organizations, as stated below, were thus affiliated under Armed Forces command.

Recent operations

Members of the Ukrainian Army's 19th Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Battalion in Kuwait

Ukraine has been playing an increasingly larger role in peacekeeping operations. Since 1992, over 30,000 soldiers have taken part in missions in the former Yugoslavia (IFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNPROFOR and UNTAES in Croatia, KFor in Kosovo), the Middle East (Southern Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq), and Africa (Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia).[126]

Deployments outside Ukraine since 1991

Ukrainian troops—as part of the former Soviet Armed Forces contingent—participated in UNPROFOR in 1992, and in the summer of that year were involved into the civil war in Yugoslavia. On 3 July 1992, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a resolution committing the Ukrainian Armed Forces to UN peacekeeping missions. The Minister of Defense, Kostyantyn Morozov, ordered the creation of the 240th Separate Special Battalion (UKRBAT-1) which was based on the 93rd Guards Motor Rifle Division (now the 93rd Mechanized Brigade). Soon after arrival in Sarajevo on 31 July 1992, the battalion's artillery ended up in the middle of a mutual mortar fight between the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. One of the Serbian shells hit the Ukrainian position, seriously wounding seven soldiers, one of whom died after hospitalization in Germany.

Since 1997, Ukraine has been working closely with NATO and especially with Poland. A Ukrainian unit was deployed as part of the multinational force in Iraq under Polish command. Ukrainian troops are also deployed as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion (UKRPOLBAT) in Kosovo. The total Ukrainian military deployment around the world as of 1 August 2009 was 540 servicemen participating in 8 peacekeeping missions.[126]

Ukrainian troops riding alongside US Marines in Iraq

In the 2003 Iraq War, from 2003 to 2006, Ukraine supplied one of the largest contingents of troops to the Multinational Force, sending over 1,600 troops to Iraq and neighboring Kuwait. Thereafter, Ukraine kept around 40 personnel in Iraq until 2008. In all, over 5,000 Ukrainians served in Iraq, with 18 killed in action, and more injured.[127][128][129]

The first battle of a regular formation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces happened on 6 April 2004, in Kut, Iraq, when the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent was attacked by militants of the Mahdi Army. The Ukrainians took fire, and over several hours held the objectives they had been assigned to secure before surrendering the city to insurgents.[130][129]

Since gaining independence, Ukraine has deployed troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, as well as dedicating peacekeepers to UN missions to Africa (including helicopter units). Ukrainian naval units also participated in anti piracy operations off the coast of Somalia prior to being recalled due to the 2014 Russian intervention in Ukraine.[131]

On 19 January 2015, Ukraine's 18th separate helicopter detachment along with other MONUSCO troops carried out a successful operation eliminating 2 camps belonging to illegal armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[132]

Deployment outside Ukraine

Annexation of Crimea by Russia

Main article: Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation

On 2 March 2014, the Ukrainian Armed Forces were placed on full alert following a Russian military invasion of Crimea.[137] On 19 March 2014, Ukraine drew plans to withdraw all its troops and their families to the mainland "quickly and efficiently".[138]

Traditions

The Central House of Officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Budget

See also: List of countries in Europe by military expenditures

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (March 2022)

In 2017, Ukraine's National Security Strategy foresaw that its National Security and Defense budget should be at least 5% of Ukraine's GDP.[147]

On 21 December 2016, the Verkhovna Rada adopted its 2017 National Security and Defense budget worth $5.172 billion; that being 5% of Ukraine's GDP. In 2016 defense expenditures amounted to $4.4 billion, or 5% of the GDP.[148][149] This (2016 figure) was a 23% increase from 2013 and a 65% increase from 2005.[148] From the total, 60% was budgeted to be spent on defence and 40% on security and policing.[148] 2016 also saw a 30% increase in weapons development spending.[150]

In 2017, corruption, historically widespread in Ukraine, combined with small budgets left the military in such a depleted condition that their ability to confront the crisis in Crimea and the Donbas was minimal. All Ukrainian defence sectors were heavily affected by systemic corruption which is hindering its capacity to ensure national security. In addition, it undermined popular trust in the military as an institution. Despite great effort to resolve the issue there were signs that enough is not being done.[151]

The Ukrainian government launched major structural reforms of the army to meet NATO standards by 2020, but few believed that it could successfully meet the deadline. Some of the problems remained intact, for example: lack of civilian and parliamentary control of the armed forces, lack of internal coordination between different departments, poor integration of volunteers into the regular army, impunity and abusive behavior of military personnel in conflict zones and systemic corruption and opacity of financial resources, especially in the Ukroboronprom defense-industry monopoly.[152]

In 2018, the military budget grew dramatically, to nearly 5% of GDP. Corruption remained a serious problem operating at all levels of Ukrainian society, and the lack of modern military organizational structure confounded efforts at reform.[153] By 2022, some reforms had been made.[154]

Budget per year

(Defense budget only, not "Security and Defense" combined)[155][156]

"Security and Defense" combined budget apart from Department of Defense (Defense Ministry) for Armed Forces of Ukraine, also includes expenses for Police, Customs, and Border Control.

Military holidays

T-64 and Su-27 on Defender of Ukraine Day celebration, 14 October 2017

These are the military holidays observed by all service personnel in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.[172]

Veterans

Ukraine provides combat veterans with a range of benefits. Ukrainians who served in World War II, the Soviet–Afghan War, or as liquidators at the Chernobyl disaster are eligible for benefits such as monthly allowances, discounts on medical and pharmacy services, free use of public transportation, additional vacation days from work, retention priority in work layoffs, easier access to loans and associated approval processes, preference when applying for security related positions, priority when applying to vocational schools or trade schools, and electricity, gas, and housing subsidies. Veterans are also eligible to stay at military sanatoriums, space permitting. Since gaining independence, Ukraine has deployed troops to Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, gaining a new generation of veterans separate from those who have served in the Soviet forces. Most recently, the government passed a law extending veteran benefits to Ukrainian troops responding to the war in Donbas. Moreover, veterans from other nations who move to or reside in Ukraine may be eligible for some of the listed benefits, this provision was likely made to ensure World War II, Chernobyl, and Afghanistan veterans from other Soviet states who moved to Ukraine received similar benefits, however as Ukraine has participated in numerous NATO-led conflicts since its independence, it is unclear if NATO veterans would be extended these benefits.[183]

Veteran groups are not as developed as in the United States, which has numerous well known national organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars. World War II veterans, and even persons who have lived through the war are generally treated with the highest respect. Other veterans are not as well known. Ukrainian veterans from the Soviet–Afghan War are strikingly similar to the Vietnam War veterans of the United States. The Soviet Union generally kept the public in the dark through the war, and it has often been labeled as a mistake by the Soviet Union and its successor states. The lack of media coverage and censorship through the war also ensured that many still remain unaware of their nation's involvement in the conflict.[184] Despite Ukraine having the third-largest contingent of troops in Iraq in 2004, few also realize that their nation has many veterans of the Iraq War.

Due to the ongoing conflict with Russia, another generation of veterans has appeared in Ukraine. These veterans would be eligible for the same benefits as all others. However, as there was no official declaration of war, it was difficult to determine the cut-off date for veteran benefits, leaving many that participated at the beginning of the conflict without benefits. At first, Ukraine only gave benefits posthumously to family members, as there was no legal framework to account for the veterans, moreover, members of territorial defense battalions were not eligible for benefits at all. In August[specify], a law was passed granting all service members participating in the war in Donbas the status of veterans, five months after first hostilities broke out in Crimea, the territorial defense battalions were integrated into the National Guard making them part of Ukraine's forces, thus allowing their volunteers to receive veteran status.[185][186]

Veterans of the war in Donbas are eligible for receiving apartments (if staying in active duty) or a land plot for building purposes of 1,000 sq. metres in the district of their registration.

On 22 November 2018, the Ministry for Veterans Affairs of Ukraine was officially established.[187]

Military industrial complex

Main article: Defense industry of Ukraine

Ukraine received about 30% of the Soviet military industry, which included between 50 and 60 percent of all Ukrainian enterprises, employing 40% of its working population. Ukraine was a leader in missile-related technology,[188] navigation electronics for combat vessels and submarines, guidance systems, and radar for military jets, heavy armoured vehicles.

The military-technical policy in the field of development and modernization of weapons and military equipment provides the Central Scientific Research Institute of Armament and Military Equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.[189]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Commonly known as "Taiwan". See also List of states with limited recognition, Political status of Taiwan and Foreign relations of Taiwan.
  2. ^ Ukrainian: Збройні сили України, romanizedZbroini syly Ukrainy, pronounced [ˈzbrɔi̯nʲi ˈsɪɫe ʊkrɐˈjine]
  3. ^ Ukrainian: ЗСУ / ZSU

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Further reading