The Ukrainian Armed Forces have evolved a lot in recent years. To a large extent this is due to the massive military aid they have received from the West, especially from the United States. Since 2014, the year of the Russian annexation of Crimea and the rebellion in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, Kiev has regularly received defensive military equipment and technology valued at billions of euros. The US has been preoccupied with arming and modernizing the Ukrainian military in the knowledge that Moscow would attempt a possible aggression against the pro-Western government in Kiev at some point.
It is obvious that Russia possesses an arsenal of weapons and an army far superior to that of Ukraine and any military analyst knows that Moscow could crush Ukraine by applying all its military force, but it would not be as easy for it now as it was eight years ago, when the first differences between the two countries emerged after the popular Maidan revolt in Kiev, instigated by the Western powers. A report by the U.S. think tank Atlantic Council argues that the Ukrainian military, with the reservists, civil society and volunteers can make “any attempted invasion a horrible experience for Russia.”
Ukraine possesses Soviet and outdated military equipment, but at the same time has high-tech missiles and well-trained officers. It currently has 250,000 troops in active service, in addition to almost 300,000 reservists and 50,000 paramilitary units that could be activated in the event of a conflict with Russia. Figures double those of 2014, when Russia gave the first warning against this former Soviet republic, the largest country in Europe in extension. The annexation of Crimea and the self-proclamation of the republic of Donetsk and Lugansk was a turning point in Ukrainian defense that marked the beginning of the modernization of its tanks, armored vehicles and artillery systems.”
Which army has more troops?
Russia, on the other hand, has one million active troops in addition to 378,000 reservists and 250,000 paramilitary troops fit to go into combat if so deemed by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Although Ukraine has received hundreds of weapons in recent years, Russian infantry power is enormous, with 12,000 armored vehicles (Ukraine has only 2,500), 30,000 vehicles (Ukraine has 12,000) and 12,000 artillery pieces to Ukraine’s 1,000.
Russian air capability is far superior to that of its neighboring country. Russia has some 700 combat aircraft. Ukraine has 70 fighters, ten times fewer than its rival. As for attack helicopters, Moscow has 500 units compared to Kiev’s 34.
At sea, the Russian Navy dominates with 15 destroyers, 70 submarines, 11 frigates and almost 50 mine warfare ships. By contrast, Ukraine has neither destroyers nor submarines. The inferiority in this field is very obvious. Kiev has only one frigate and one mine warfare ship.
Javelin and Stinger missiles… and Turkish drones
Ukraine continues to receive weapons from the United Kingdom these days, in particular anti-tank missiles; from Estonia Javelin anti-tank missiles have also been sent to Kiev, while Latvia and Lithuania will send Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. But the biggest military aid comes from its main partner, the USA. The White House announced a few days ago that it will deliver an extra $200 million in defensive military equipment, including anti-armor missiles, ammunition and other items.
However, the most painful support for Moscow has come from Turkey, whose government has sold Ukraine the powerful Bayraktar TB2 drones that proved decisive in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, an operation that has strained relations between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.