Military of Ukraine

Military of Ukraine
Armed Forces of Ukraine
Збройні сили України
Emblem of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.svg
Emblem of the Armed Forces
Founded December 12, 1991
Service branches Emblem of Ukrainian Ground Forces Ground Forces

Emblem of Ukrainian Air Force Air Force
Emblem of Ukrainian Navy Navy

Supreme Commander-in-chief Viktor Yanukovych
Minister of Defence Mykhailo Yezhel
Chief of the General Staff & Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Hryhorii Pedchenko
Military age 18
Conscription 12 month (GF, AF)
18 month (Navy)
Available for
military service
11,149,646, age 16-49 (2008 est.[1])
Fit for
military service
6,970,035, age 16-49 (2008 est.[1])
Reaching military
age annually
256,196 (2008 est.[1])
Active personnel 159,000 (ranked 36)
Reserve personnel 1,000,000
Deployed personnel 466
Budget $1 billion (€750,000,000)(2009)
8.3 billion UAH[2]
Percent of GDP 0.79
Domestic suppliers Defence Companies of Ukraine
Related articles
Ranks Military ranks of Ukraine

Zsu prapor.jpg
Flag of the Armed Forces

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Збройні сили України (ЗСУ) Zbroyni Syly Ukrayiny, (ZSU)) are the military of Ukraine.

Ukraine's stated national policy is Euro-Atlantic integration, with the European Union. Ukraine has a "Distinctive Partnership" with 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 operation with its neighbor Poland, in Kosovo. Ukrainian serviceman also serve under NATO command in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Operation Active Endeavour.[3] Current Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych considers the current level of co-operation between Ukraine and NATO sufficient.[4] His predecessor Viktor Yushchenko had asked for Ukrainian membership early 2008.[5][6] During the 2008 Bucharest summit NATO declared that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, whenever it wants and when it would correspond the criteria for the accession.[4] 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.[7]

The current Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is Colonel General Hryhorii Pedchenko.[8]

Military units of other states participate in multinational military exercises with Ukrainian forces in Ukraine regularly.[9] Many of these exercises are held under the NATO co-operation programme Partnership for Peace.



The importance of Ukrainians has a very long and honorable military tradition stretching back for centuries with in the Russian Empire and later in the Soviet Union, brining many victories and and fame.

As the Soviet Union dissolved in 1990 and 1991, 780,000 Soviet military personnel remained located in Ukraine’s three military districts. This mass was not an army but a force grouping, without a national Ministry of Defence, a General Staff or central organs of command and control. '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.'[10] At that time, the armed forces of Ukraine included land force formations, one rocket army, four Air Force armies, a separate air defense army, and the Black Sea Fleet. Altogether, when established, the Armed Forces of Ukraine included more than 350 ships, 1500 combat aircraft, and 1272 strategic nuclear war-heads of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

On August 24, 1991, the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, enacted a resolution to take jurisdiction over all formations of the armed forces of the Soviet Union stationed on Ukrainian soil, and to establish one of the key agencies, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.[11]

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. Included in this 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 the region were Ukraine's Mykolaiv, Kherson, Zaporizhia Oblasts, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Also key for the creation of a 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.

The 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 was pursuing a policy of independence from Russian dominance, and thus was trying to fully integrate with the West, specifically NATO.

However, Ukraine retains tight military relations with Russia, mostly inherited from the common Soviet history. Common use of naval bases in Crimea and joint air defense efforts are the most intense branches of such cooperation. This cooperation is a permanent irritant in bilateral relations. But the country is unable to drop such ties quickly, being economically dependent on Moscow. Furthermore, following the election of current 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, which employed 40% of its working population. Ukraine was, and still remains, a leader in missile-related technology.[12] Especially 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 build 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 unfortunate 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 and the accidental shooting down of Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 in October 2001.


The Ukrainian armed forces are largely made up of conscripts. The total personnel (including 41,000 civilian workers) numbers at the end of 2010 will be 200,000.[13] The branch structure is as follows:

Ukraine maintains a number of Guards units, tracing their traditions from Soviet Armed Forces service. A list can be seen at List of guards units of Ukraine.

Women make almost 13% of the armed forces (18.000 persons). There are few female high officers, 2,9% (1.202 women).[16] Contractual military service counts for almost 44% of women. However, this is closely linked to the low salary of such positions: men refuse to serve in these conditions when women accept them.[16]

Military education


  • Chief Military Clinic Hospital[18] (Kiev)

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.[19] Ukraine voluntarily gave up these and its other nuclear weapons during the early 1990s. This was the first time in human history that a country voluntarily gave up the use of strategic nuclear weapons, though the Republic of South Africa was destroying its small tactical nuclear weapons program at about the same time.

SS-20 on display at the Great Patriotic War Museum, Kiev

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, a technology for making electronic to determine 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) 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 remained 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.

Recent operations

Members of the Ukrainian Army’s 19th Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Battalion in Iraq.

Ukraine has been playing an increasingly larger role in peacekeeping operations. Since 1992, over 30,000 soldiers took part in missions in former Yugoslavia (IFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNPROFOR and UNTAES in Croatia, KFor in Serbia/Kosovo), Middle East (Southern Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq), African Continent (Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia).[20]

Since 1997, Ukraine has been closely working with NATO, and especially Poland. A Ukrainian unit was deployed in Iraq, 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 is 540 servicemen participating in 8 peacekeeping missions.[20]

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.[21]

Deployment outside Ukraine

Armies of Ukraine
Christos Acheiropoietos.jpg Kievan Rus'
Alex K Halych-Volhynia.svg Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia
Flag of the Cossack Hetmanat.svg Cossack Hetmanate
Flag of the Ukrainian People's Republic Ukrainian National Republic
Flag of the UPA Ukrainian National state
Flag of the Ukrainian SSR Ukrainian SSR
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
  • Armed Forces (1992–Present)

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Deployments as of September 2010:

Other militarized institutions of Ukraine

Ukraine's militarized institutions independent from Armed Forces of Ukraine include:

Although not components of the Armed Forces, these militarized institutions are supposed to fall under Armed Forces' command during wartime.

Military Holidays

These are the professional military holidays of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.[30]

  • February 23 - The Defender Day
  • July 8 - The Air Defence Day
  • August 1 - The Navy Day
  • August 2 - The Airmobile Forces Day
  • August 8 - The Signal troops Day
  • September 7 - The Day of Military Intelligence
  • September 9 - The Day of Armour
  • September 14 - The mobilization serviceman Day
  • October 29 - The Day of finance officers
  • November 3 - The 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[31]
  • December 12 - The Day of Ground Forces
  • December 23 - The Day of all level operational control structures servicemen.


Ukrainian Su-25UB
  1. ^ CIA World Factbook, Military of Ukraine
  2. ^ Ukrainian Armed Forces White Book 2009 pg. 19
  3. ^ Новини Управління Прес-служби МО
  4. ^ a b NATO confirms readiness for Ukraine's joining organization, Kyiv Post (April 13, 2010)
  5. ^ Bush to back Ukraine's Nato hopes, BBC News (April 1, 2008)
  6. ^ NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine held off, BBC (April 4, 2008)
  7. ^ Ukraine drops NATO membership bid, EUobserver (June 6, 2010)
  8. ^ Authorities of Ukrainian Armed Forces
  9. ^ Parliament approves admission of military units of foreign states to Ukraine for exercises, Kyiv Post (May 18, 2010)
  10. ^ James Sherr, 'Ukraine's Defence Reform: An Update', Conflict Studies Research Centre, 2002
  11. ^ The history of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
  12. ^ Ukraine Special Weapons
  13. ^ Ukrainian Armed Forces 2009. p. 78. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Ukrainian Armed Forces 2009. p. 79. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  15. ^ Ukrainian Armed Forces 2009. p. 80. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  16. ^ a b UNDP helps Ukrainian Ministry of Defence create new opportunities for women, UNDP (June 16, 2009)
  17. ^ (Ukrainian) Official website of National Defense University of Ukraine
  18. ^ (Russian) Chief Military Clinic Hospital
  19. ^ Source old early 1990s notes, but corroboration available for example at and Feskov et al.
  21. ^ Al-Kut, Iraq: After-Battle Report
  22. ^ a b c d UN Mission's Contributions by Country for September 2010
  23. ^ Participating nations
  24. ^ KFOR Troops (Placemat)
  25. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about structure of Ministry of Internal Affairs 10.01.2002 № 2925-III
  26. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about Motorized military troops of Militsiya 05.05.1995 № 319
  27. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about structure of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine 03.04.2003 № 661-IV
  28. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about structure of Civil Defence Forces 22.12.1998 № 328-XIV
  29. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about Special Transportation Service of Ukraine 05.02.2004 № 1449-IV
  30. ^ Professional military holidays
  31. ^ Festive fireworks and salutes to take place in 9 cities on Sunday, UNIAN (December 3, 2009)


  • Feskov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A., Golikov, V.I. (2004). The Soviet Army in the Years of the Cold War 1945–91. Tomsk: Tomsk University Publishing House. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7. 

Further reading

  • Walter Parchomenko, Prospects for Genuine Reform in Ukraine's Security Forces, Armed Forces & Society, 2002, Vol.28, No.2

External links

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