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Armed Forces of Ukraine
Збройні сили України
Zsu emblem.jpg
Emblem of the Armed Forces
Founded December 12, 1991
Service branches Ground Forces
Air Force
Supreme Commander-in-chief Viktor Yushchenko
Minister of Defence Yuriy Yekhanurov
Chief of the General Staff & Commander-in-Chief General of Army of Ukraine Sergiy Kirichenko
Military age 18
Conscription 12 month (GF, AF)
18 month (Navy)
Available for
military service
11,457,562, age 16-49 (2008 est.[1])
Fit for
military service
7,141,814, age 16-49  (2008 est.[1])
Reaching military
age annually
288,605 (2008 est.[1])
Active personnel 149,000 (ranked 36)
Reserve personnel 1,000,000
Deployed personnel 562
Budget $1.52 billion (€1.12 billion)(2009)
11.65 billion UAH[2]
Percent of GDP 1.11[3]
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)) were formed from portions of the military of the collapsing Soviet Union, in the early 1990s.

Ukraine's stated national policy is Euro-Atlantic integration, with both NATO and 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.[4] However, the continuing relationship with Russia complicates these linkages.

The current Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is General of Army of Ukraine Sergiy Kirichenko.



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.'[5] 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.

Ukrainian air and ground army groups (click to enlarge)

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 former Soviet Union stationed on Ukrainian soil, and to establish one of the key agencies, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.[6]

Armies of Ukraine
Christos Acheiropoietos.jpg Kievan Rus'
Alex K Halych-Volhynia.svg Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia
Gerae-tamga.png Crimean Khanate
Flag of the Cossack Hetmanat.svg Cossacks
Flag of the Ukrainian People's Republic Ukrainian People's Republic
Flag of the Ukrainian SSR Ukrainian SSR
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
  • Armed Forces (1991—Present)

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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 CIS 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 parliamentary commission. The Ukrainian military tactics and organization are heavily dependent on Cold War tactics, and former Soviet Union organization. Ukraine has however been pursuing a policy of independence from Russian dominance, and have taken steps towards closer ties with the West. However, Ukraine retains tight military relations with Russia, mostly inherited from the common Soviet history. Common use of naval bases in Crimean 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.

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.[7] 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, and caused negative reaction in the West (particularly in the US).


Military of Ukraine
Zsu emblem.jpg
Main branches
Ps emblem.jpg Ukrainian Air Force
Sv emblem.jpg Ukrainian Ground Forces
Vms emblem.jpg Ukrainian Navy
Other Corps
Ukr marines.jpg Ukrainian Marine Corps
Ukr mechanized.jpg Ukrainian Mechanized Forces
Ukr airborne.jpg Ukrainian Airmobile Forces
Related Services
MoD symbol.jpg Ministry of Defense
General Staff UA.jpg General Staff
MVSlogo.jpg Ministry of Internal Affairs
NSAU Logo1.svg National Space Agency
Security Service of Ukraine.gif Security Service of Ukraine
SZRU logo.jpg Foreign Intelligence Service
Hur ukraine.jpg Military Intelligence Service
History of the Ukrainian Military
History of Ukraine
History of Ukraine during WWII
History of Ukraine during WWI

The Ukrainian armed forces are largely made up of conscripts. The total personnel (including 43,000 civilian workers) numbers at the end of 2008 will be 191,000.[8] In July 2008, there were 149,000 military personnel.[9] The branch structure is as follows:

On November 26, 1997 Ukraine and Poland signed an Agreement on the formation of a Joint Peacekeeping Battalion, which became fully operational in 1999 in the Kosovo Conflict.[12]

Arms Control and Disarmament

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited two divisions of the Strategic Rocket Forces' 43rd Rocket Army (HQ Vinnitsa), the 19th Rocket Division (Khemilnitskiy) (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.[13] 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.

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.
A Ukrainian peacekeeper in Kosovo

Ukraine has been playing an increasingly larger role in peacekeeping operations. Since 1992, over 30,000 soldiers took part in missions in former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Eastern Slavonia,Serbia/Kosovo), Middle East (Southern Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq), African Continent (Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia).[14]

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.[14]

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.[15]


Deployment outside Ukraine

Deployments as of November 2009:

Other militarized institutions of Ukraine

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

Although not the parts of 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.[24]

  • 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[25]
  • December 12 - The Day of Ground Forces
  • December 23 - The Day of all level operational control structures servicemen.

See also


  1. ^ CIA World Factbook, Military of Ukraine
  2. ^ Ukrainian Armed Forces White Book
  3. ^ (Ukrainian) Financial amount received by military is 1.11%
  4. ^ Новини Управління Прес-служби МО
  5. ^ James Sherr, 'Ukraine's Defence Reform: An Update', Conflict Studies Research Centre, 2002
  6. ^ The history of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
  7. ^ Ukraine Special Weapons
  8. ^ New Law (2008)
  9. ^ (Ukrainian) Minister of Defence: We need to stop reducing troop numbers
  10. ^ Ukrainian Armed Forces 2007 White Book p.110
  11. ^ a b Ukrainian Armed Forces 2007 White Book p.111
  12. ^ Polish-Ukrainian Peace Force Battalion
  13. ^ Source old early 1990s notes, but corroboration available for example at and Feskov et al.
  15. ^ Al-Kut, Iraq: After-Battle Report
  16. ^ a b c d UN Mission's Contributions by Country for November 2009
  17. ^ Participating nations
  18. ^ KFOR Troops (Placemat)
  19. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about structure of Ministry of Internal Affairs 10.01.2002 № 2925-III
  20. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about Motorized military troops of Militsiya 05.05.1995 № 319
  21. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about structure of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine 03.04.2003 № 661-IV
  22. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about structure of Civil Defence Forces 22.12.1998 № 328-XIV
  23. ^ (Ukrainian) Law of Ukraine about Special Transportation Service of Ukraine 05.02.2004 № 1449-IV
  24. ^ Professional military holidays
  25. ^ Festive fireworks and salutes to take place in 9 cities on Sunday, UNIAN (December 3, 2009)

External links

Further reading

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


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