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Comparing the Russian and Ukrainian Armies

Análisis comparativo y datos sobre los ejércitos de Rusia y Ucrania


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Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the launch of a military operation in Ukraine, while his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, has decreed the general mobilization of Ukrainian troops.

But the offensive on Ukraine by Russia, the world’s second military power, confronts two countries whose military potential cannot be compared either in terms of the number of troops or in the quantity and quality of weapons and military equipment.

Russia, which as part of the Soviet Union was consolidated since the end of the Second World War as the great military and nuclear power together with the United States, undertook in 2008 a modernization process that has raised its military capacity to its best moment since the dissolution of the USSR, according to the Military Balance 2022 of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Ukraine, which gave up its nuclear weaponry in the 1990s following the demise of the USSR and its formation as an independent country, has also upgraded its defensive forces in recent years, the ISSS study notes. However, its weapons and equipment are mostly from the Soviet era, a legacy that also weighs down its important defense industry.

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The Ukrainian Army ranks 22nd among the most powerful armies in the Global Fire Power Index, a defense consultancy that compiles its index according to numerous variables including military strength, economy, logistical capacity, or geography.

The difference between the annual budgets that the two countries allocate to defense gives an idea of the distance of their military power: Russia spends 154 billion dollars and Ukraine invests 11 billion, according to this consulting firm.

Comparison between the two armies

The number of troops at the disposal of the Russian army is more than four times higher than that of Ukraine. Russia has about 900,000 active military personnel (280,000 in the Army, 150,000 in the Navy and 165,000 in the Air Force, to which must be added 130,000 belonging to airborne units and other strategic and special forces, and 180,000 in command and support).

Ukraine has about 200,000 troops (125,000 ground troops, 15,000 in the Navy, 35,000 in the Air Force, 20,000 in airborne units, and 1,000 in special operations forces). To these must be added 100,000 paramilitary and gendarmerie troops and 900,000 reservists.

According to Global Fire Power data, Russia’s air force consists of 4,173 aircraft, compared to 318 in Ukraine. The number of Russian fighter planes is 772 and Ukraine’s 69. Russian attack and support planes are 739 to 29 Ukrainian ones. The Russian army has 1,543 helicopters of which 540 are combat helicopters. Ukraine 112 and 34, respectively.

As for ground forces, the Russian Armed Forces have 12,420 tanks to 2,596 Ukrainian ones. The number of Russian armored vehicles is 30,122 and Ukrainian 12,303. The Russian artillery has 6,574 self-propelled batteries and Ukraine has 1,067. The Russians total 3,391 missile launchers and the Ukrainians 490.

In relation to naval strength, the difference is 605 ships to 38 in favor of Russia.

The Russian fleet consists of one aircraft carrier, 70 submarines, 15 destroyers, 11 frigates, 86 corvettes, 59 patrol boats, and 49 minesweepers.

The Ukrainian Navy is limited to one frigate, one corvette, 13 patrol boats, and one minesweeper.