Military Wiki
Ministry of Defence of Ukraine
Міністерство Oборони України
Lesser Coat of Arms of Ukraine.svg
Coat of arms of Ukraine
File:MoD symbol.jpg
Ministerial insignia
The ministry building in Kiev
Agency overview
Formed September 3, 1991
Preceding agency
  • State Committee of Ukraine in Military Affairs[1]
Jurisdiction Ukraine
Headquarters prospekt Povitroflotskyi 6, Kiev
Agency executives
  • Pavlo Lebedyev[2], Minister of Defence of Ukraine
  • Oleksandr Oliynyk[3][4], First Deputy of Minister[4]
Parent agency Cabinet of Ministers
Child agencies

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (Ukrainian language: Міністерство оборони України ) was established on September 24, 1991,[5][6] one month after Ukraine's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. The ministry was in charge of reorganizing all Soviet forces on the Ukrainian terrain under its command. This mass was not an army but an immense force grouping, which would take several months to reorganize.[5][7]

Since that time, Ukraine has voluntarily given up all of its nuclear weapons. The ministry of defense has spent numerous funds eliminating former nuclear silos, military bases and on reduction of man-power and equipment, to be in accordance with the conventional armed forces treaty.


Once ratified by the Ukrainian Rada (parliament), the major objectives of the ministry are preventing hostility, structuring the military, and repelling aggression. Ukrainian security policies are very defensive and based on nonintervention, respect for the national borders and sovereignty of other states, and rejection of the use of force as an instrument of policy. Because of political sensitivity, the military doctrine, similar to Ukraine’s security policy, avoids pointing out a specific threat. Rather it refers to a “state whose consistent policy presents a military threat, or leads to interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine, or encroaches on its territorial integrity and its national interests.” [8]

Hence, the Ministry of Defense is responsible for:

  • Support to Armed Forces day-to-day activities
  • Mission and mobilization readiness
  • Combatant value
  • Training to fulfill assigned missions and engagement
  • Manning and appropriate training
  • Weapons and military equipment supplies
  • Material, funding and other resources in accordance with requirements
  • Control over the effective use of these resources
  • Developing interoperability with executive power, civilian agencies and civilians
  • International military and military-technical cooperation
  • Control over compliance of Armed Forces activities with the Law
  • Developing conditions for civilian control over Armed Forces.[9]


File:MoD insignia.gif

Insignia of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense

File:MoD patch.gif

Service patch of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense


The first military executive office was created on June 28, 1917 as part of the General Secretariat of Ukraine and was headed by Symon Petliura. The Russian Provisional Government refused to recognize it, but after the October Revolution the Secretariat of Military Affairs was reestablished on November 12, 1917. At the end of December 1917 Symon Petliura resigned in protest to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. At the same time, Bolsheviks established own executive branch as part of the People's Secretariat headed by Vasyl Shakhrai. On January 6, 1918 Volodymyr Vynnychenko appointed Mykola Porsh to the vacant position. On January 25, 1918 the general secretariats were reorganized into people's ministries as Ukraine proclaimed its independence. [People's] Ministry of Military Affairs existed also during the regime of Hetman of Ukraine Pavlo Skoropadsky and until the exile of the Ukrainian National Government at the end of 1920.

On January 24, 1919 there was established the People's Commissariat of Military Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR. In summer of 1919 it was dissolved due to the military union that was signed between governments of the Ukrainian SSR and the Russian SFSR in April 1919.[10]

In 1944 there also existed the People's Commissariat of Defense of the Ukrainian SSR.[11]

Since the fall of the Soviet Union

In 1991, Ukraine inherited one of the largest military forces not only in the post-socialist area, but in all of Europe (excluding Russia).[6] This included 780,000 formerly Soviet military personnel, 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. This force was designed to confront NATO in full-scale warfare, using conventional and nuclear weapons.[12]

Therefore on 24 September 1991, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the resolution about the process of taking under its jurisdiction of all military units of former Soviet Armed Forces, situated on the territory of Ukraine; and about the establishment of one of the most important Ministries, the Ministry of Defense. Hence, the country became the first among the former Soviet republics to establish a ministry of defense.[8] The ministry and the Ukrainian government subsequently, began establishing the different military branches.

The Ukrainian National Ministry of Defense institution, however, has a much earlier history when it was first established by Symon Petlyura in 1917 as a General Secretariat of Military Affairs for the Russian Provisional Government. During the aggression of the Soviet Russia the national ministry was eliminated, while its Soviet counterpart was eventually liquidated by mid 1920's.

The political preference of Ukraine authority on the non-nuclear and non-coalition state status were made to be the foundation of the Armed Forces organization process. But equally as important to the foundation were the limitations, connected with approval of the Agreement "On conventional Armed Forces in Europe" and implementation of the Tashkent Agreement of 1992, which establish not only maximal levels of arms for each state of former USSR. Therefore, between 1992 and 1997 the number of military personnel in Ukraine was nearly halved.[13] In a short span of time, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed some legislative acts concerning the military sphere: The conception for Defense and organization of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the resolution "On Security Council of Ukraine", Laws of Ukraine "On Defense of Ukraine", "On the Armed Forces of Ukraine", and Military Doctrine of Ukraine. Mostly related to structural control of the Armed Forces.

In addition, Ukraine began its nuclear weapons disarmament program in the early 90s. By 1 June 1996, there was no nuclear weapon in Ukraine.[14][15]

During the first few years of independence, the national Defense Ministry built the basics for a functional defense system, in spite of different difficulties of that time (which included; hyperinflation, transition from a Socialist to a Capitalist economic system and the loss of 60% of the country’s GDP). Ministry of Defense, the General Staff, branches of the Armed Forces, executive system and a training system of the Armed Forces were established in this short span of time. After some time, it became apparent that the process of the Armed Forces improvement had just began. And the problem was that not only there were no special system and efficient plan for resolving the military development problems of that time, but also that it was lack of trained personnel for its development and realization.

A shuffle in the military departments administration had a rather negative effect on the process of military development. From 1991 till 1996, three Ministers of Defense and four Chiefs of General Staff were changed. About 70% of administrative staff was changed in the early stages of forming the Armed Forces of Ukraine. All military district commanders, army commanders, corps and division commanders were changed several times over. This problem was complicated by the countries instability, connected with international dislocation of military personnel. About 12000 officers pledged their allegiance to other countries (Mostly Russia) and more than 33000 personnel came back to serve the Ukrainian army between 1991 till 1994.

No doubt, that the main reason of dissatisfied realization of the main procedures of the Armed Forces development process was permanent reduction of common part of expenses for National Defense at all; expenses for the Armed Forces, purchases of armament and military vehicles, providing the research engineering and design efforts.

Development of the Military

Armed Forces of Ukraine
Emblem of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.svg
Main branches
Emblem of the Ukrainian Air Force.svg Air Force
Emblem of the Ukrainian Ground Forces.svg Ground Forces
Emblem of the Ukrainian Navy.svg Navy
Other Corps
Ukr marines.jpg Naval Infantry
Ukr mechanized.jpg Mechanized Forces
Ukr airborne.jpg Airmobile Forces
Related Services
Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.svg Ministry of Defence
General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.svg General Staff
Emblem of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine.svg Military Intelligence Service
History of the Ukrainian Military
History of Ukraine during WWII
History of Ukraine during WWI

The progress of Ukraine’s military organization and development are (by the Ministry of Defense) divided into three main periods:

  • The first period began from 1991-1996 - the initial establishment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, reorganization;
  • The second period from 1997-2000 - further organization and development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine;
  • The third period 2001- on - reforming and development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, introducing new military equipment.

First Stages

The aspects of the first period of development were the forming the legal foundation of the Armed Forces activity, reorganization of its structure, establishment of the corresponding executive structures and supporting structures, and other elements, which were necessary for its functioning.

The first stages of development of the Armed Forces also began the reduction of the military institutions, number of personnel, and number of armament and nuclear technology. As such a large quantity of weaponry was both unnecessary for Ukraine and could not have been maintained with the provided defense budget.

At the end of 1996, more than 3500 different military institutions and 410000 personnel were discharged. Also, the number of armament and defense technologies was decreased: combat aircraft - by 600 units, helicopters - by 250, the garrison tanks and combat armed vehicles by 2400 and 2000.[9]

Throughout the 1992-1997 the army was reduced by 400,000 servicemen. More than 1300 units, organizations, command and control installations were disbanded during that period. By the end of 1999 the organizational strength of the Armed Forces is to number around 400,000 men, including 310,000 military and 90,000 civilians.[13]

Future Development

According to the Defense Ministry, it is also planned to create a system of civilian control over the armed forces, illuminate the tasks of the highest leadership and respective state and military organizations in terms of Armed Forces command and control. Therefore, the President of Ukraine, as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, executes command and control over the Armed Forces according to the Constitution of Ukraine and active legislation. Command and control over the Armed Forces and other military formations in emergencies is executed by the President of Ukraine through the general headquarters (similar to the Soviet STAVKA), one working agency of which is the General Staff of Ukrainian Armed Forces and the other being, the Ministry of Defense.

Realization of the basics of the Armed Forces Command and Control organization reform concept will leave out repetition in their work, increase efficiency, responsibility level and effectiveness of the Armed Forces branches commands. While Operational Commands, reduce both the number of command and control structures and their manpower. Consequently, by late 2005 the ministry of defense will reduce its structure by 37% and its manpower almost in half. Ukraine has announced the goal of making its army all-professional by the year 2015. In the first stage in the years 2001 through 2005, around a third of the army servicemen were replaced with professionals. During the third stage (in the years 2006 through 2010), the quantity of professionals serving in the army is planned to increase up to 50%. And, lastly, at the final stage (scheduled to complete by the year 2015), the army will become all-professional. Army downsizing will accompany the transition to an all-professional army.[16]


The Ukrainian Defense Ministry is responsible for the management of territorial defense, military development, mobilization in the case of war and combat readiness. The General Staff of Ukraine has the task of planning defensive and operational management of the armed forces. The General Staff is assistant to the Defense Minister of Ukraine.

List of Ministers of Defence

Military Rank Name Term of Office
Start End
Colonel General Kostyantyn Morozov[17] September 3, 1991 October 4, 1993
Colonel General Ivan Bizhan[18] October 4, 1993 October 8, 1993
General of the Army Vitalyi Radetskyi[19] October 8, 1993 August 25, 1994
Valeriy Shmarov[17] August 1994 July 1996
General of the Army Oleksandr Kuzmuk[17] July 1996 July 2001
General of the Army Volodymyr Shkidchenko[17] November 2001 June 2003
Yevhen Marchuk[17] June 2003 September 2004
General of the Army Oleksandr Kuzmuk[17] September 2004 February 2005
Anatoliy Grytsenko[17] February 4, 2005 December 2007
Yuriy Yekhanurov December 18, 2007 June 5, 2009
Valeriy Ivaschenko (acting) June 5, 2009 March 11, 2010
Mykhailo Yezhel March 11, 2010 February 8, 2012[20]
Dmytro Salamatin February 8, 2012[21] December 24, 2012[2]
Pavlo Lebedyev December 24, 2012[2] Present


External links

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