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Ukraine faces russian bear. What does the balance of military power look like between the two parties?

Although Ukraine has doubled its military budget and gained new experience, comparing its military might with Russia remains entirely in Russia's favour. The Russian army is the second strongest in the world and far outnumbered, so what does the comparison between the two parties look like?

Russia vs Ukraine
Conflicts of armies | Military comparison between Russia and Ukraine

Many military experts have ruled out a war against Ukraine because of the belief that it will be a long-term and difficult war that will take a heavy toll, but Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine on Thursday (February 24, 2022), and carried out a landing of troops on its coast after Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed what he described as a "special military operation" in eastern Ukraine.

Three million Ukrainians in Russia

Ukraine on Wednesday called on its citizens to leave Russia as soon as possible against the backdrop of "an escalation of Russian aggression against Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Some three million Ukrainians live in Russia, according to Ukrainian estimates.

Russia announced Tuesday that it was evacuating its diplomats from Ukraine, accusing the Ukrainian authorities of not doing what was necessary to ensure their safety.

After the outbreak of the war, which many Western powers, including America, Germany, and France, have tried to prevent, we take an overview of the strength of the two armies: Russian and Ukrainian.

First: Number of soldiers

Russia: About 1 million troops and 2 million reservists

In recent years, Vladimir Putin has invested heavily in the Russian army, one of the most powerful in the world, both in terms of the number of his troops and his equipment. The Russian army ranks second in the world's annual Global Firepower Index, followed directly by the Chinese military, and of course, the U.S. military ranks first in this ranking.

When compared to the Ukrainian army, the Russian army is by far the most likely. Most experts estimate that Russia has mobilized more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, and there are also other Russian forces in Belarus. The Russian army here brings a total of about 280,000 troops, out of a total of about 900,000 Russian armed forces. Russia has about two million reservists.

Ukraine: increase in troop numbers and gain experience

Military experts, however, believe that Ukrainian soldiers can show fierce resistance to the Russian invasion and cause heavy losses to Russian forces. The Ukrainian army is now better equipped and ready than it was in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea without fighting.

The Ukrainian army has 209,000 troops and Ukraine aims to increase its forces to 361,000, President Volodymyr Zelensky recently signed a decree. There are also about 900,000 reservists and fighters in voluntary unions.

  • Most adult males in Ukraine have at least basic military training. The army has also gained combat experience since 2014 in Donbas and is considered highly motivated.

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksy Reznikov said Thursday that anyone with the willingness and ability to take up arms can join the ranks of the regional defence forces, while Ukrainian police said they would distribute weapons to veterans.

The Ukrainian army issued an order to mobilize reservists on Wednesday, and Ukrainian ground forces said in a Facebook message that "reservists between the ages of 18 and 60 will be called... Packing will start today. The maximum service period is one year."

Second: What about the military hardware of both countries?

Military budget: Between 2010 and 2020, Ukraine tripled its defence spending, and in 2020, Kyiv's military budget reached $4.3 billion and has now risen to about $5.9 billion, about a tenth of Russia's $61.7 billion military budget, according to the German news agency DPA.

Western aid to Ukraine

Western countries have supplied arms to Ukraine, even if that is not enough for the government in Kyiv. The United States has provided more than $2.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since 2014 and has provided Kyiv with patrol boats, armoured vehicles, rifles, drones, radar systems, and night vision devices.

  • Turkey has sent drones (Berkdar aircraft) that have been used against separatists in the east.

  • In addition, there is also military assistance provided by the Baltic States and the Czech Republic. 

Germany has so far ruled out the delivery of weapons but is financially involved in training and the construction of field hospitals.

Air Defense and Electronic Warfare

Ukrainian air defence military experts are particularly weak, and Russia can use its superiority in cyber warfare and disrupt communications in the Ukrainian army.

Land gear

Russian forces have about 2,840 tanks, three times as many as neighborIng Ukraine. Ukraine can rely on armour-piercing weapons, including U.S.-produced anti-tank weapons, as well as anti-aircraft guns, Reuters reported.

Naval Force

Russia has 570 warships, including 49 submarines, while Ukraine has only 24 warships and no submarines, according to a graph published by Germany online, which is quoted as saying by the German news agency DPA.

Air Force

Based on Nuclear weapons on the same chart, Russia has 1,379 fighter jets and Ukraine has only 125.

Nuclear weapons

Russia has 6,255 nuclear warheads, while Ukraine has no nuclear warheads, according to Online.