On February 24th, 2022, Russian forces that had been gathering around the border of Ukraine began trickling in through the north, east, and southern borders. For the Ukrainians, this wasn’t a big surprise. Russian forces had been accumulating all around them for the last year, reaching numbers that approached 200,000. For the rest of the world, shock, dismay, and apparent amnesia. Ukraine and Russia have been at odds for many years now, engaged in kinetic and propaganda warfare on both sides. Many around the world hold their breath as a resilient Ukrainian President Zelensky stands defiant in the face of the Russian juggernaut (though that juggernaut seems to be slow, disorganized, and partially seized with age and rust). It is important to note that nothing in this world is perfect or straightforward, but facts are facts, and numbers are numbers, which is what this article discusses:
Ukrainian and Russian military size, their numbers, and a brief analysis.
Ukrainian Military Size
According to globalfirepower.com, Ukrainian military manpower consisted of an estimated 200,000 active-duty forces, backed up by an additional 250,000 reservists. At the beginning of the conflict, the Ukrainian airforce had a total of 318 aircraft. That’s 69 fighter jets, 29 attack planes, 32 transport craft, 71 training aircraft, five special mission military craft, 112 helicopters, and 34 attack helicopters. The Ukrainians also possess 2,596 tanks, 12,303 armored vehicles, 1,067 self-propelled artillery, 2,040 towed artillery, and 490 rocket projectors. A country with a relatively nonexistent navy, 38 small craft exist in Ukraine’s fleet, including one frigate, one corvette, 13 patrol vessels, and one mine warfare vessel. Ukraine was once the third-largest nuclear power in the world. In exchange for denuclearization, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s everlasting security in an agreement signed in 1994 known as the Budapest Memorandum.
Russian Military Size
According to globalfirepower.com, Russian military manpower consisted of an estimated 850,000 active-duty forces, backed up by an additional 250,000 reservists. At the beginning of the conflict, the Russian airforce had a total of 4,173 aircraft. That’s 772 fighter jets, 739 attack planes, 445 transport craft, 522 training aircraft, 132 special mission military craft, 20 tanker aircraft, 1,543 helicopters, and 544 attack helicopters. The Russians also possess 12,420 tanks, 30,122 armored vehicles, 6,574 self-propelled artillery, 7,571 towed artillery, and 3,391 rocket projectors. A country with a substantial naval force, Vladimir Putin controls One aircraft carrier, 15 destroyers, 11 frigates, 86 corvettes, 70 submarines, 59 patrol vessels, and 49 mine warfare vessels. As of January 2021, Putin had 6,255 nuclear weapons.
The Russian military holds a large advantage against Ukrainian forces in terms of sheer size and strength. Many retired generals, newscasters, and talkshow pundits expected Ukraine to fold almost instantaneously, and the consensus is that Vladimir Putin also thought the same thing. In a dictatorship, the dictator is feared. Putin’s Generals exaggerated the battle readiness and modern capability of Russian forces, and now, Russia is bogged down and suffering heavy losses throughout Ukraine. According to the Kyiv Independent, Russian troop losses already top 11,000 dead. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the total U.S. troop losses for the ENTIRETY of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. These are soldiers, many of them young conscripts, who were lied to, manipulated, and sent on special training missions, which turned out to be real. The video testimony of captured Russian POWs seems to be validating this.
Source: The Kyiv Independent
Though truly validated numbers are not yet available due to the fog of war, Russian forces have most likely also killed thousands of Ukrainians. From military personnel to women and children, it seems that the initial failure of Russia’s shock and awe campaign has now led to Russia’s old-school Soviet tactic of siege, suffocation, and depopulation. Regardless of the validity of Putin’s grievances, killing thousands of innocent women and children crosses a line that no truth can justify. These horrifying yet historic numbers haven’t been seen since World War Two. The fact remains, Ukraine is heavily outnumbered.
Let’s be honest for a moment. Even if the above reported Russian losses are accurate, Russia still has 160,000 to 170,000 troops operating within Ukraine. Advances in the south have successfully attacked and taken Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the entire city of Kherson, a strategic port city with a population of 280,000 civilians, many now dead and wounded. Advances in the north have led to a 40-mile long convoy coming to choke out Kyiv, then stalling, then coming, then stalling, then coming, then stalling again. Needless to say, the Russians are doing better in the south. Regardless of their inefficiency, the Russians are still coming, and it’s only a matter of time before Vladimir Putin cranks up the violence even further. He is under pressure to succeed. Every day the Ukrainians hold on is one more day Putin risks everything, including his own life. This is the only scenario in which I foresee Ukraine winning outright, though history teaches us that miracles happen occasionally. With the world financially and militarily (from a distance) supporting Ukraine’s independence, what is a cornered animal capable of?
Source: The Sun (UK)
I mentioned earlier in this article that nothing in the world is perfect or straightforward. Most people search for a simple answer. Putin is bad! Zelensky is good! The truth is obviously more complicated and will take many articles to dissect. I think the true answer as to why some of the people we think are good do bad things sometimes has everything to do with spine and bureaucracy. I have been saying for two years now that we don’t have a pandemic of Covid, we have a pandemic of cowards. Many leaders and government officials let decades to centuries-old bureaucracy run the show and lack the spine and testicular fortitude to make decisions based upon what’s right vs. what’s popular. It’s just so much easier to let the machine run itself. No harm, no foul. Now here we sit at the slow-revealing precipice of events leading to World War Three. Maybe Zelensky and the Ukrainian people hold on long enough for Russia itself to get rid of Putin. Maybe Russia succeeds and takes Ukraine. Can they even hold such a vast and rebellious populated region? The answer is no, of course not. So then what’s the real end game?
What does Putin have up his sleeve? What secret agreements did China and Russia make that we aren’t aware of?
What’s coming next that we aren’t expecting?
The clock is ticking…