The Ukrainian army is small, sovietized, underfunded and ill-trained

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The tasks they undertake today are not those for which the Soviet army was trained. They weren’t trained to fight terrorists, ”Kuzio explains. Reducing the size of the standing army was a long-standing part of government policy reform program to transform the armed forces into smaller, more agile and better trained units, and also to reduce costs. But under former President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine sank deeper and deeper into bankruptcy, and “low defense budgets (currently around $ 2 billion or 1.1% of GDP) have hampered the process ”, Global Security reports. (Note: According to the Kyiv Post, this year’s defense budget is $ 4.5 billion.) Lack of funds is the reason why, in March, the military resorted to a SMS fundraising campaign. When Russia invaded this spring, the Ukrainian army had virtually no training to face an internal ground battle. “They weren’t psychologically ready at all, ”Blank said. “The types of weapons needed to handle urban warfare and counterinsurgency,” Blank noted, “require a lot of skill, sensitivity, and training. If you don’t have the money, you aren’t making money. training.”

The lack of preparedness of the armed forces also partly explains the reluctance of the United States to supply weapons to the Ukrainians, send non-lethal aid instead. “The administration has slowed down in part because it is not sure it can deploy them and train them on these weapons,” Pifer explains. Even though the United States provided Ukrainian forces with arms and ammunition, it is questionable whether newly enlisted Ukrainian troops would be able to know how to use them.

The Ukrainian armed forces participated in NATO peacekeeping missions in the Balkans in the 1990s, “but that did not sharpen their sense of functioning in Ukraine, ”says Kipp. “If you are doing things with NATO and you don’t have a lot of money, it’s easier to invest in NATO exercises than it is to invest in exercises for your own military defense. Under Yanukovych, military cooperation with NATO was limited. Finally, Ukrainian forces struggled to maintain the kind of intelligence communications needed to successfully counter a situation like the Russian invasion. “The problem of coordinating three different services – the national guard, the army, the SBU – is also a new equation for them, ”explains Kuzio.

Ukrainian internal politics hamper the army’s ability to act.


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