OSW Studies

The best army Ukraine has ever had. Changes in Ukraine’s armed forces since the Russian aggression

The best army Ukraine has ever had

The annexation of Crimea by Russia and the first weeks of the war in the Donbas revealed what Ukraine’s armed forces were in reality – a petrified structure, incapable of any effective action in the face of minimal enemy engagement. A considerable section of the armed forces’ personnel gradually became aware of whom they were representing only in the course of the conflict and it was not rare that from the perspective of service in one of post-Soviet military districts they sided with Russia.

The war in the Donbas shaped the Ukrainian army. It helped its soldiers gain awareness and motivation. It also forced the administration of the Ukrainian ministry of defence and the government to adapt the structure – for the first time since it was formed – to the real operational needs and to incur the costs of preventing a collapse in the area of training and equipment, at least to the level which makes it possible to engage in a war on a level playing field with the pro-Russian separatists.