Armed Forces of Ukraine
|This article is outdated. (July 2014)|
|Armed Forces of Ukraine
Збройні сили України
Emblem of the Armed Forces
Flag of the Armed Forces
|Founded||1917 (reconstituted December 6, 1991)|
|Service branches|| Ground Forces
|Supreme Commander-in-Chief||Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko|
|Minister of Defence||Stepan Poltorak|
|Chief of staff||Viktor Muzhenko|
|Conscription||12 months (GF, AF)
18 months (Navy)
|11,149,646, age 16–49 (2015 est.)|
|6,970,035, age 16–49 (2015 est.)|
|200,000 (2015 est.)|
|Active personnel||250,800 (January 2015)|
|Reserve personnel||700,000 (March 2015)|
$5.5 billion (2015) 
|Percent of GDP||5% (2015)|
|Domestic suppliers||Ukrainian Defense Industry|
1992-94 Crimean crisis
Tuzla Island conflict
Operation Ocean Shield
2014 Crimean crisis
Pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine
War in Donbass
|Ranks||Military ranks of Ukraine|
The Armed Forces of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Збройні сили України (ЗСУ) Zbroyni Syly Ukrayiny, (ZSU)) is the military of Ukraine. The country has observer status with the Non-Aligned Movement of nation states. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are composed of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, the Ukrainian Navy, and the Ukrainian Air Force with the National Guard of Ukraine making up the main reserve component. Ukraine's naval forces maintain their own small Ukrainian Naval Infantry force as well as their own Ukrainian Naval Aviation force. The Ukrainian Sea Guard is the coast guard service of Ukraine, however it is part of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine and is not subordinate to the Navy. A concept of the Territorial Defense Battalion of Ukraine formed as a result of the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine from local volunteers forming their own units which received authorization to operate as a militia against enemy forces. Initially these units received minimal funding from the state and mostly relied on donations. In November 2014 all battalions were integrated into Ukraine's regular forces as part of the National Guard of Ukraine.
Ukrainian army is twenty-fifth of most powerful armies in the world.
Due to the ongoing hostilities with pro-Russian separatist, Ukraine has greatly increased the size of its military forces to the size of approximately 250,000 active duty personnel, not counting para military forces such as the border guards or the security service. Ukraine's armed forces overtook France, which maintained a 229,000 man force, as the largest in Europe when excluding Russia.
Military units of other states participate in multinational military exercises with Ukrainian forces in Ukraine regularly. Many of these exercises are held under the NATO co-operation program Partnership for Peace.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 Conscription
- 4 International relationships
- 5 Arms control and disarmament
- 6 Recent operations
- 7 Other militarized institutions of Ukraine
- 8 Military holidays
- 9 Veterans
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The modern military in Ukraine was completely inherited from the Soviet Union, in which Ukraine was a member state. 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 Armed Forces of the USSR. Administratively the Ukrainian SSR was divided into three military districts (the Carpathian Military District, Kiev Military District, and Odessa Military District) and most of the Black Sea Fleet naval bases were located on the coast of Ukraine.
As the collapse of the Soviet Union took place before 1992 (see Novo-Ogoryovo process), 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 were designed for one purpose: to wage combined arms, coalition, offensive (and nuclear) warfare against NATO on an external front". At that time, the former Soviet armed forces in the Ukrainian SSR included a rocket army (43rd Rocket Army), four air force armies, an air defense army (8th Air Defence Army), three regular armies, two tank armies, one army corps and the Black Sea Fleet. Altogether the Armed Forces of Ukraine included about 780,000 personnel, 6,500 tanks, about 7,000 combat armored vehicles, 1,500 combat aircraft, and more than 350 ships.
On 26 February 1991 a parliamentary Standing Commission for Questions of Security and Defense was established. On August 24, 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". 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. 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. This was followed by two Laws of Ukraine that were adopted by the Supreme Council of Ukraine on December 6, 1991 and Presidential Ukase #4 "About Armed Forces of Ukraine" on December 12, 1991. The government of Ukraine surrendered any rights of succession of the Soviet Strategic Deterrence Forces (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 regarding a joint military command of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
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 was the definition, agreement and ratification of the 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, Zaporizhia Oblasts, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Another key event in the creation of the Ukrainian military was the 1992 Tashkent Treaty, which laid out aspirations for a Commonwealth of Independent States military that would prove 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.
All military and security forces, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine and a number of independent "militarized institutions" (paramilitary forces) are under the command of the President of Ukraine, and subject to oversight by a permanent Verkhovna Rada parliamentary commission. Ukrainian military tactics and organization are heavily dependent on Cold War tactics and former Soviet Armed Forces organization. Under former President Yushchenko Ukraine pursued a policy of independence from Russian dominance, and thus tried to fully integrate with the West, specifically NATO.
However, Ukraine retained tight military relations with Russia, inherited from their common Soviet history. Common use of naval bases in Crimea and joint air defense efforts were the most intense branches of such cooperation. This cooperation is a permanent irritant in bilateral relations, but the country is unable to break such ties quickly, being economically dependent on Moscow. Furthermore, following the election of President Victor Yanukovych, ties between Moscow and Kiev have warmed, and those between Kiev and NATO have cooled, relative to the Yushchenko years.
Plagued at times by hostile relations with Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been steadfastly trying to develop its own independent military industry. Notable results of this effort are the Ukrainian-built T-84 main battle tank, currently in service, and the aircraft manufacturer Antonov. 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, and still remains, a leader in missile-related technology, navigation electronics for combat vessels and submarines, guidance systems, and radar for military jets. Tough competition in the world's weapons market obliged Ukraine to consider exporting arms to politically unstable or even aggressive regimes. Ukraine built its own connections in arms exporting. The first contracts on weapons deliveries to Iran, signed in the middle of 1992, caused negative reactions in the West, particularly from the United States federal government.
Several accidents involving the Armed Forces have occurred since 1992, including the crash of an Air Force Su-27 in the Sknyliv airshow disaster of 2002.
In March 2014, after the 2014 Crimean crisis began, it was announced by the reformist government that a new military service, the National Guard of Ukraine would be created. Previously a National Guard had existed up until 2000, thus the 2014 NG is a reformation of the one raised in 1991, but this time formed partially of personnel from the Internal Troops of Ukraine.
In May 2014 with hybrid war happening in 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 Olexander Turchynov described the downing as a "terrorist attack," and blamed pro-Russian militants.
Ukraine has 130,000 personnel in its armed forces that could be boosted to about one million with reservists. Late 2010 the total personnel (including 41,000 civilian workers) was 200,000. Conscription was ended in October 2013; at that time the Ukrainian armed forces were made up of 40% conscripts and 60% contract soldiers. In April 2014 acting President Oleksandr Turchynov reinstated conscription in May 2014.
The branch structure is as follows: (250,800 personnel in 2015)
- Ukrainian Ground Forces: 204,000 personnel
- Ukrainian Air Force: 36,800 personnel
- Ukrainian Navy: 10,000 personnel
With the adoption on December 26, 1996, of a new "State Program for the Building and Development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine", a new type of military district was established in northeast Ukraine, centered in the city of Chernihiv and designated as the Northern Operational/Territorial Command, later renamed the Northern Operational Command. The State Program also provided that two military districts, Carpathian and Odessa, [would] be renamed the Western and Southern Operational Commands respectively. Force numbers were 400,000 (2004), with an expected total of 200,000 in 2005 (2004 est), and 180,000 by 2015 (Bright/Marchuk 2004).
Ukraine maintains a number of Guards units, tracing their traditions to the Soviet Armed Forces. A list can be seen at List of guards units of Ukraine. Women comprise almost 13% of the armed forces (18,000 personnel) but few females hold high rank (2.9% or 1,202 women). Contractual military service accounts for almost 44% of women. However, this is closely linked to the low salary of such positions: men refuse to serve in these conditions while women accept them.
A number of universities have specialized military institutes, such as the Faculty of Military Legal Studies at Kharkiv's National Yaroslav Mudryi Law Academy of Ukraine. The primary Ukrainian military academies are:
- Petro Sahaidachny Ground Forces Academy, Lviv
- Admiral Pavel Nakhimov Naval Academy, Sevastopol
- transferred to Mykolaiv
- Ivan Kozhedub Air Force University, Kharkiv (uk:Харківський університет повітряних сил імені Івана Кожедуба)
The Soviet Union required all able-bodied male citizens to serve 2 years in the armed forces (3 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 military forces such as border guard service, 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 1 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. Ukrainian Naval Infantry was the first service to convert to being staffed by fully professional marines. In October 2013 President Yanukovich ended conscription in Ukraine, at the time 60% of Ukraine's forces were composed of professional soldiers. However, due to the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine conscription, as well as a partial mobilization, was reinstated in 2014. Ukraine has modified the age group of males eligible for conscription for 2015 from 18-25 to the 20-27 age group. 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 Donbass 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. It is planned that in 2015 Ukraine will undergo 3 waves of partial mobilization, this would allow new troops to replace those serving longer than their original term of service. A concept of a Territorial Defense Battalion of Ukraine was formed from local volunteers forming their own units to defend their cities from possible Russian attack. Under Ukrainian law each oblast is allowed to form its own defense unit. These battalions were initially highly autonomous units, however as of November 2014 they have been incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine. Due to the reintroduction of conscription, partial mobilization Ukraine's armed forces is expected to nearly double from approximately 130,000 personnel in December 2014 to approximately 250,000 personnel in 2015. Women are not eligible for the draft and are not conscripted, although they may volunteer to join as there is no provision in Ukraine that prevents women from serving in the military. Nadiya Savchenko is perhaps one of the most well known female Ukrainian soldiers and is currently held as a prisoner in Russia. All medical workers in Ukraine regardless of gender are eligible to be called up for service in case of a national emergency. Draft dodging is present in Ukraine as with most nations that utilize the draft. It was reported that between April and August 2014 over 1,000 criminal inquires into draft evasion were opened in Ukraine. 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.
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 serve under NATO command in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Operation Active Endeavour. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych considers the level of co-operation between Ukraine and NATO sufficient. His predecessor Viktor Yushchenko had asked for Ukrainian membership by early 2008. During the 2008 Bucharest summit NATO declared that Ukraine will become a member of NATO whenever it wants and when it meets the criteria for accession. Former Ukrainian President Yanukovych opted to keep Ukraine a non-aligned state. This materialized on June 3, 2010 when the Ukrainian parliament excluded, with 226 votes, the goal of "integration into Euro-Atlantic security and NATO membership" from the country's national security strategy.
Arms control and disarmament
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited two divisions of the Strategic Rocket Forces' 43rd Rocket Army (HQ Vinnytsia): the 19th Rocket Division (Khmelnytskyi) (90? UR-100N/SS-19/RS-18) and the 46th Rocket Division at Pervomaisk, Mykolaiv Oblast, equipped with 40 SS-19 and 46 silo-mounted RT-23 Molodets/SS-24s. While Ukraine had physical control of these systems, it did not have operational control. The use of the weapons was dependent on Russian-controlled electronic Permissive Action Links and the Russian command and control system.
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 the Republic of South Africa was dismantling its small tactical nuclear weapons program at about the same time.
Ukraine has plentiful amounts of highly enriched uranium, which the United States wanted to buy from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology. Ukraine also has two uranium mining and processing factories, a heavy water plant and technology for determining the isotopic composition of fissionable materials. Ukraine has deposits of uranium that are 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 January 1, 1996, no military nuclear equipment or materials remain on Ukrainian territory.
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 (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 was 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. As of 2014, much of this surplus had not been scrapped.
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).
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.
The first battle of a regular formation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces happened on April 6, 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.
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 July 3, 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 Guard Motor-Rifle Division (now the 93rd Mechanized Infantry Division). Soon after arrival in Sarajevo on July 31, 1992, the battalion's artillery complex 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 gaining independence Ukraine has deployed troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, as well as dedicating peacekeepers to UN missions to Africa. Ukrainian naval units also participated in anti piracy operations off the coast of Somalia prior to being recalled due to the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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.
Deployment outside Ukraine
|Armies of Ukraine|
|Kyivan Rus' / Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia|
| Zaporizhian Host
|Ukrainian People's Republic|
| Free Territory
|Ukrainian National Government|
- Afghanistan: ISAF (PRT CHAGHCHARAN) – 13 Officers (3 medical officers)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: (MONUSCO) – 12 Experts on Mission and four Mi-24 helicopters
- Iraq (NTM-I): – 10 officers
- Kosovo: (KFOR) – 128 Soldiers
- Kosovo: (UNMIK) – 1 Military Liaison Component Chief of Staff, 1 liaison officer
- Liberia: (UNMIL) – 277 Contingent Troops, 2 Experts on Mission
- Moldova: (Transnistria) – 10 Military Observers
- Sudan: (UNMIS) – 9 Experts on Mission
2014 Crimean crisis
On 19 March 2014, Ukraine are drawing plans to withdraw all their soldiers and their families to mainland "Quickly and Efficiently".
Other militarized institutions of Ukraine
Ukraine's Armed Forces outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense consist of:
- Internal Troops → National Guard (Ministry of Internal Affairs): 60,000 
- Special operation formations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, i.e. Omega, Scorpion (nuclear sites security), Tytan, and others. Most of Felidae-named formations (such as Bars, Jaguar, others) along with Berkut were reformed.
- Territorial defense battalion (Ukraine) - All volunteer units that formed in 2014 to resist pro Russian insurgents, as of November 2014 many units have been incorporated as regulars either into the National Guard (Ministry of Internal Affairs) or directly as part of the regular army units (Ministry of Defense). Some units were left with the volunteer status.
- Border Guard: 50,000 (including 8,000 civilian workers)
- Various military troops of the SBU (no generic name)
- Civil Defence Forces (State Emergency Service of Ukraine): 10,218 (including 668 civilian workers)
- Special Transportation Service of Ukraine – (Ministry of Transportation and Communications)
Although not components of the Armed Forces, these militarized institutions are supposed to come under the Armed Forces' command during wartime.
These are the military holidays observed by all service personnel the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
- July 8 – Air and Air Defence Forces Day
- Last Sunday in July – Navy Day; From 1997 till 2011 this day was celebrated on August 1
- August 2 – Airmobile Forces Day
- August 8 – Signal Troops Day
- September 7 – The Day of Military Intelligence
- September 9 – The Day of Armour
- September 14 – Mobilized Servicemen Day
- October 29 – The Day of finance officers
- November 3 – Rocket Forces and Artillery Day
- November 3 – The Day of Engineers
- December 6 – The Armed Forces Day; festive fireworks and salutes take place in various cities in Ukraine
- December 12 – Ground Forces Day
- December 23 – The Day of all level operational control structures servicemen.
Ukraine provides combat veterans with various benefits. Ukrainians who have served in WWII, Soviet war in Afghanistan, or as liquidators at the Chernobyl disaster are eligible for benefits such as; a monthly allowance, discount on medical and pharmacy services, free use of public transportation, additional vacation days from work, having priority for retention in case of work layoffs, easier loan access and approval process, preference when applying for security related positions, priority when applying to vocation school or trade school, and electricity, gas, and housing subsidies. Veterans are also eligible to stay at military sanatoriums permitting there is space. 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 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine. 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 WWII, 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.
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 War of Afghanistan are strikingly similar to the Vietnam veterans of the United States. The Soviet Union generally kept the public in the dark through the war, unlike in Vietnam where coverage was very high, Afghanistan is often 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 nations involvement in the conflict. Despite Ukraine having the 3rd 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 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 a law was passed granting all service members participating in Ukraine's Anti Terror Operation 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.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Military of Ukraine.|
- Official Website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense: in English and in Ukrainian (English)/(Ukrainian)
- Viysko Ukrayiny – Ministry of Defense' Army of Ukraine magazine (Ukrainian)
- Ukraine Defence White Book: 2005 2006 2007
- "Defense-Express" specialized news agency (a project of Ukrainian "Center for Army Conversion and Disarmament Studies" NGO; subscription needed for most of the material)
- Ukrainian Army military history magazine (including info on insignia and military museums)
- "London, UK-based Institute for Strategic Studies appraises Ukrainian Armed Forces' personnel as 295,500-strong". Ukrinform. 2003-10-25. Information on Ukrainian military human and weapons resources.