How big is the army of Ukraine? Size compared to the Russian military

Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine on February 24 but failed to capture the capital Kyiv and overthrow President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government

Almost 100 days have passed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, but President Vladimir Putin’s army has struggled to achieve its goals in the country.

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This area includes cities like Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol.

Almost 100 days have passed since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

President Putin has not only failed in his military goals, but also failed in his goal of stopping NATO’s further expansion, as both Finland and Sweden have applied to join the military organization.

So how big is the Ukrainian army – and how does it compare to the Russian military?

How big is the army of Ukraine?

According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), when the invasion began on February 24, Ukraine had 196,600 active-duty military personnel.

Fighting has been concentrated in the north, south and east of Ukraine (Graphic: Mark Hall)
  • 125,600 ground troops
  • 35,000 flight crew
  • 15,000 marines
  • Another 900,000 reservists
Ukrainian troops are outnumbered by the Russians by more than two to one (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

These numbers increased as men between the ages of 18 and 60 were conscripted and other civilians volunteered to carry guns.

Ukraine has since announced plans to arm another million citizens.

The latest official estimate from Ukraine (April 16) says it has lost 3,000 soldiers.

Ukrainian troops have excavated defensive positions in the east of the country (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

The Russian Defense Ministry put Ukraine’s troop losses at 23,367 on April 16.

Although no new total estimates have come out of Moscow since then, it is said that 1,730 Ukrainian troops were captured when Mariupol fell after a three-month siege.

Russia also says it has shot down 134 Ukrainian planes, 2,269 tanks and 987 artillery pieces since the invasion began.

None of these claims have been independently verified.

Ukraine has nearly 200,000 active duty military personnel (Image: Getty Images)

Most of Ukraine’s firepower is land-based, with the country having more than 2,000 tanks, 1,960 pieces of artillery and 2,870 armored vehicles at the time of the Russian invasion.

President Joe Biden has since asked Congress to approve an additional $20 billion (£16.2 million) in military aid.

Ukraine says its losses are much lighter than Russia’s – although it’s difficult to verify that claim (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s Air Force consists of 146 attack aircraft and 42 attack helicopters, while the Navy has only two warships.

It remains one of a few countries to have given up its nuclear weapons, meaning it has no deterrent to threaten Russia with.

British-supplied missiles reportedly effectively destroyed Russian tanks (Image: Getty Images)

Since the country has been fighting so-called Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country since 2014, its forces are well-versed in combat.

However, with a defense budget of $2 billion to $5 billion, it does not have the capabilities of its powerful neighbor.

How big is Russia’s army?

Russia’s military far outstrips Ukraine’s with a budget of between $40 billion and $65 billion.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) says Russia’s defense spending doubled between 2005 and 2018 as the country sought to modernize its army.

A Russian soldier cleans a bombed theater in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

These are his skills:

  • 900,000 active duty military personnel on land, sea and air
  • 280,000 soldiers
  • 165,000 flight crew
  • 150,000 marines
  • Around two million reservists.
Russia often publicly demonstrates its military prowess with parades, like this one marking VE Day in 2021 (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Professor Michael Clarke – a security expert and former director of the Royal United Services Institute – estimated that 40% of the active Russian army is made up of conscripts.

Vladimir Putin had previously denied conscripts were fighting in Ukraine, but his defense ministry has since admitted some played a role in the invasion.

Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 are required to serve for 12 months each year, but are not allowed to serve on the front lines under Russian law.

A new draft was made on April 1st.

Russia’s military are believed to be struggling with supply and communications problems (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Russia is believed to have called in more troops from Chechnya, eastern Russia and Syria to further bolster its armed forces.

Close Moscow ally Belarus has so far not officially sent troops into the conflict, although it has massed troops near the border.

Ukraine says it killed thousands of Russian troops (Image: Getty Images)

After withdrawing from the Kyiv region in early April, Russia began an offensive in Donbass on April 18.

The Defense Ministry says the Russian force in eastern Ukraine includes remnants of the units that attacked Kyiv, many of which have banded together.

Continued Ukrainian resistance at Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol halts Russian advances (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Russia has so far struggled to invade the Donbass, owing to Ukrainian counterattacks – particularly around the city of Kharkiv – resistance from the port city of Mariupol and its own inefficiency.

Ukraine claims to have killed nearly 28,700 Russian soldiers (over 15% of the original invading force).

Russia has only officially admitted to losing 1,351 troops – a figure announced on March 25, just over a month after the invasion began.

A cleanup has begun around Kyiv after Russian forces withdrew from northern Ukraine (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

It is impossible to independently verify these claims.

They are believed to have been killed in vulnerable forward positions as they attempted to improve communications with front-line troops and bolster low morale.

Ukraine claims to have destroyed or captured hundreds of Russian tanks (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Russia’s land-based capabilities include more than 13,000 tanks, nearly 6,000 pieces of artillery and nearly 20,000 armored vehicles – although not all firepower is directed at Ukraine.

Ukraine claims to have destroyed 1,263 tanks and 596 pieces of artillery, as well as 3,090 armored vehicles.

Russia’s main advantage is its long-range weaponry, with the country having more than 500 land-based ballistic missile launchers.

Russia has a navy that includes more than 50 submarines (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

It claims to have used hypersonic Kinzhal air-launched missiles for the first time – which US President Joe Biden confirmed on March 21.

But the British Ministry of Defence said that the weapon is still in the “development phase” and that its deployment “was most likely aimed at distracting from a lack of progress in Russia’s ground campaign.”

Russia, despite its focus on the east of the country, has continued to launch missile attacks on Ukraine.

In addition to critical infrastructure, projectiles and artillery shells have hit civilian areas, including apartment blocks.

Ukraine claims to have shot down hundreds of Russian planes (Image: Getty Images)

As for the air force, the country has 1,328 combat aircraft and more than 470 combat helicopters.

Ukraine claims to have shot down or captured 204 planes and 168 helicopters.

At sea, its 74 warships and 51 submarines dwarf Ukraine’s tiny fleet — though Moscow is only stationed around 20 naval vessels to the Black Sea, according to the British government.

Sweden, along with Finland, has applied to join NATO in the face of Russian aggression (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Russia has gained a lot of battlefield experience over the past decade thanks to its involvement in the civil war in Syria, where it propped up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

It has also deployed troops to Libya and invaded Georgia in 2008.

In view of this, however, this experience seems to have counted for little in Ukraine the MoD marked as Strategic planning and operational execution “mistakes”.

The Ministry of Defense believes that Russia’s military is now “significantly weaker” as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

Part of the reason for its failure could be corruption.

Professor Michael Clarke told the BBC it was “deep” in Russia’s ranks and said the fact that most of the army believed it was on drills ahead of the invasion meant it was not combat-ready.

“When they train, they agree to all sorts of things that aren’t really true – they tick the boxes to uphold that [isn’t] really there and they sell their gear because they get paid so little. And so, indeed, the forces that have crossed the border are extremely unprepared,” he said.

A Russian truck is pictured near the city of Kherson (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Russia’s greatest threat to Ukraine and the rest of the world is its stockpile of nuclear weapons, the mere existence of which is a deterrent to going directly to war with the country.

How big are the British armed forces?

The UK’s full-time armed forces number more than 159,000 according to the latest publicly available estimate from the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

This number includes 76,300 ground troops, 29,960 air personnel and 29,136 naval troops.

Some of these troops are currently deployed with NATO in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States amid fears that Russia may be planning an invasion of other neighboring and former USSR states.

The UK has troops deployed to NATO in the Baltic States (Image: PA)

The UK actually has a target of reducing its land-based forces to 72,500 by 2025, meaning it would have 30,000 fewer troops than it had in 2010

It currently has more than 32,000 reservists.

How big is the US Army?

Few countries can match the power of the US military machine.

According to the latest 2020 estimates, the country spends more than $700 billion annually on its armed forces.

In 2020, this was 37% of the world’s total defense spending.

The US is believed to have over a million active ground troops, 300,000 sailors and 300,000 air troops.

How big is the NATO army?

The defense organization NATO has around 3.5 million active and reserve forces that it can fall back on if one of its members is attacked. How big is the army of Ukraine? Size compared to the Russian military


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