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Ukrainian Ground Forces
Сухопутні Війська України
Emblem of the Ukrainian Ground Forces
Emblem of the Ukrainian Ground Forces


12 December 1991–present
Size 144,000[1]
Headquarters Kiev
Anniversaries Army Day (6 December).[2]
Engagements Iraq War
War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)
2014 Crimean crisis
Ground Forces Ensign Ensign of Ukrainian Ground Forces

The Ukrainian Ground Forces ([Сухопутні Війська ЗСУ, Sukhoputni Viys’ka ZSU] Error: {{Lang-xx}}: text has italic markup (help)) are the land force component of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They were formed from Soviet Ground Forces formations, units, and establishments, including three military districts (the Kiev, Carpathian, and Odessa Military Districts), that were on Ukrainian soil when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990–92.

Throughout the 1990s, Ukraine retained much Soviet-era army equipment. Since then, however, Ukraine has upgraded its Ground Forces with advanced additions from domestic engineering and modifications. Currently, the Ukrainian Ground Forces buys military equipment only from Russia and other CIS states, as well as locally producing some of their own equipment.

As of late January 2014, the position of chief of the ground forces was vacant; Colonel General Gennadiy Vorobyov was dismissed by the President in mid January 2014.


Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, three separate self-governing Ukrainian states existed on what is Ukraine today. Each of these states possessed armed forces. The largest of these, the Ukrainian People's Republic, itself comprised three separate regimes. The Ukrainian People's Army is an example of one of the early national armed forces. Other armed independence movements existed in the wake of both the First World War and the Second World War, and these armies each had distinct organisation and uniforms. These armed forces, and the independent Ukrainian homeland for which they fought, were eventually incorporated into the neighboring states of Poland, Soviet Union, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia.[3]

Collapse of the USSR[]

The Armed Forces of Ukraine included approximately 780,000 personnel, 7000 armored vehicles, 6,500 tanks, and 2,500 tactical nuclear missiles when they were established. However, the problem that Ukraine face was that while it had vast armed forces, it lacked a proper command structure. Therefore, on 24 August 1991, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the resolution of taking under its control, all military units of former Soviet Armed Forces, situated on the territory of Ukraine; and in turn the establishment of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

Following the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, Ukraine inherited the 1st Guards Army, 13th Army, 38th Army), two tank armies (the 6th Guards Tank Army and the 8th Tank Army), and the 32nd Army Corps (32-й Кенигсберский армейский корпус) at Simferopol. In addition, the 28th Guards Motor Rifle Division (MRD) and the 180th MRD were left in Ukraine, having been previously under the 14th Guards Army headquartered at Tiraspol in the Moldovan SSR. The post of commander of ground troops was designated in early 1992. By the end of 1992, the Kiev Military District disbanded, and Ukraine used its structures as the basis for the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff.[4] Between June and August 1993, the first redesignation of armies to army corps appears to have taken place.[5] While the chief of ground forces post had been created in early 1992, it was over two years before the first holder, Colonel General Vasily Sobkov, was appointed on 7 April 1994.[6] The legal framework for the Ground Forces was defined in Article 4 of the law 'On the Armed Forces of Ukraine.' At that time, the Ground Forces had no separate command body, and were directly subordinate to the Ukrainian General Staff.

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

The creation of the Ground Forces as a separate armed service was legally only put in train by Presidential Decree 368/96 of 23 May 1996, 'On the Ground Forces of Ukraine.'[7] That year both the Ground Forces Command was formed and the 1st Army Corps was reorganised as the Northern Territorial Operational Command (which became the Northern Operational Command in 1998). In 1997 the Carpathian Military District was reorganised as the Western Operational Command.

President Leonid Kuchma revealed in a December 1996 speech that as many as 191 mechanised infantry and tank battalions were rated not ready, adding,“This is especially dangerous in the forward-based units securing the nation’s borders.”[8]

From 1992 to 1997, the forces of the Kiev MD were transferred to the Odessa MD, and the Odessa MD's headquarters moved to Donetsk.[9] A new 2nd Army Corps was formed in the Odessa MD. Armies were converted to army corps, and motor rifle divisions converted into mechanised divisions or brigades. Pairs of attack helicopter regiments were combined to form army aviation brigades.

In 2005–06, the Northern Operational Command was reorganised as Territorial Directorate "North". It was tasked with territorial defence, mobilisation training, and preparation of reserves.[10] It was reported on 27 July 2005 that '..[o]ver 70 per cent of planned work on [the] disbandment of the Ukrainian armed forces' Northern Operational Command has been completed,' according to the Defence Ministry's press service.[11]


The Ground Forces are implementing a plan, promulgated in 2000, that includes a reduction in the number of troops from the then 300,000 to 240,000 by 2015, and an ultimate change from a partial conscript-based force to a fully professional military.[12] Even though the Armed Forces received little more than half of the Hr 68 million it was promised for reform in 2001, officials were able to disband nine regiments and close 21 local military bases.

According to the State Program of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reform and development to 2005, the ground forces were to have the biggest ratio of personnel of all services (up to 54%). This ratio was to be based on the missions assigned to the armed forces, and also on the fact that current economy of Ukraine cannot support any larger troop numbers. However, the ground forces still have priority in the number of personnel, weapons, military equipment development priorities and the development of their future systems, which will correspond to modern warfare requirements. The ground forces will closely coordinate their assignments with other army branches, engaging appropriate military arts and equipment. They will also be involved in law enforcement activities during emergencies, dealing with consequences of technological and natural disasters, providing military assistance to other countries, engaging in international military cooperation activities (UN), and participating in international peacekeeping operations according to international agreements.


File:Ukr para exercise.jpg

Ukrainian paratroopers during a joint exercise with the 82nd Airborne Division (United States).

Training in 2006 was aimed at developing mobility and combat readiness of the forces.[13] Training was directed primarily into Joint Rapid Reaction Forces (JRRF) exercises. Measures were also taken to maintain the high level of combat efficiency of the Main Defence Forces units, performing of missions by the units, securing and practicing joint actions with other formations. The Ukrainian armed forces took advantage of the opportunities provided by multinational exercises to raise the level of their combat efficiency.[13]

2006 also saw the first ever large-scale Ukrainian tactical special exercise with practical deployment of a military mobile hospital of the Air Force's Military Medical Centre. It involved several ambulance aircraft and armored equipment (APC). During the practical phase the possibilities of use of the medical evacuation aircraft, medical evacuation helicopters and automobiles were also tested. The training framework included an international research conference on the “Methodological basis of medical support organisation of the Armed Forces”, in which representatives of the armed forces of Ukraine, NATO nations and other partners participated.[14]

In 2007 the system of exercise/training ranges was optimized, decreasing their number and providing a specialized role.[15]

Training Ranges of the Ground Forces:

  • Zhitomir Combined Arms Training Range

(See also below in formations list)

Branches of the Ground Forces[]

Armoured and mechanised forces[]

T-64 tanks of the Ukrainian Army

T-64BM Bulat on parade, a Ukrainian upgrade of the T-64, produced by the KMDB

Mechanised Infantry and armoured forces are the primary components of the Ukrainian Ground Forces. Their primary objectives in case of war are capturing and holding targets, maintaining positions, defending against attack, penetrating enemy lines and defeating enemy forces.

The mechanised and armoured forces are equipped with T-64[16] and T-64BM "Bulat"[17] main battle tanks; BTR-4, BTR-60, BTR-70 and BTR-80, wheeled armored personnel carriers and BMP-1, BMP-2 and BMD-2 infantry combat vehicles.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, a large number of the previous Soviet mechanised formations on Ukrainian soil have been disbanded – the IISS says totals have dropped from 14 divisions, in 1992, to two divisions, six brigades, and one independent regiment in 2008.[18] Today, all mechanised and armoured formations are called brigades. However, some former divisions remain near division strength.

Current armoured formations include:

Disbanded armoured formations include:

Airmobile Forces and Army Aviation[]

Soldiers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces 95th Airborne Brigade

Soldiers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces 95th Airborne Brigade

Army Aviation, having to cover troop movements, is by far the most maneuverable branch of the army, intended to conduct the operations under all sorts conditions of combat arms procedures. Among the priorities of the Ukrainian army aviation's units is to provide reconnaissance, attack enemy weapon systems, provide equipment and human resources, give tactical fire support during an offensive or counterattack, land airmobile troops, and to deliver combat weapons and personnel at the specified areas and execute other main tasks. There are two units: the 3rd Army Aviation Regiment and 7th Army Aviation Regiment. They are equipped with Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, and their variants.[23]

The Ukrainian Airmobile Forces serve as the quick response units of the army. Airmobile forces' structure consists of formations and elements of the army and the army aviation. These units are well trained for offensive activities behind enemy lines. The airmobile forces are in constant combat readiness and base their battle plan on high mobility. The airmobile forces consist of two airmobile brigades, an airborne brigade, and one airmobile regiment.[24] Some of the airmobile formations were previously grouped into the 1st Airmobile Division but this has now been disbanded.

Rocket and Artillery Troops[]

BM-30 Smerch parade

Ukrainian BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers on parade in Kiev

Rocket Forces and Artillery troops of the army consist of formations of operational-tactical and tactical missiles, self-propelled artillery, howitzers, jet-propelled and anti-tank artillery, artillery reconnaissance units, of mortar units and of units of anti-tank missiles. These forces operate as support for other army formations, and are therefore obliged to destroy enemy human resources, tanks, artillery, anti-tanks weapons, aircraft, air defence equipment, and other important objects during the combat arms operations. Rocket and artillery troops are equipped with: missile complexes of operational-tactical and tactical missiles; Multiple rocket launcher rocket systems, such as the Smerch, Uragan, Grad; also, Giatsint, Pion, Akatsiya, Gvozdika howitzers; and, Konkurs, T-12 antitank gun anti-tank weapons.

Previously the 1st Rocket Division was active at Хмельницкий, formed on the basis of the former Soviet 43rd Rocket Army. It had two to three rocket brigades (19-Хмельницкий, 46 или 199- Gchovka, 107-Кременчуг) with 54–56 Скад/Scud. It was active in 2003,[25] but disbanded in 2004.[26] In addition, previously the 461st Rocket Brigade (рбр) Славута, 13 АК ЗОК, the 459th Rocket Brigade (рбр) at Белая Церковь-8 АК,СОК- Точка- расформирована в 2004, 123 рбр- Контоп-СОК, Точка, 107 рбр (Kremenchug) (Tochka), and the 159th Rocket Brigade (рбр) (Кіровоград) were active.[26]

Army Air Defence[]

The Army Air Defence units are responsible for covering troops against enemy air attacks anywhere on the battlefield, and while in combat. The Ukrainian Ground Forces army air defence branch is equipped with a variety of effective surface-to-air missile systems of division level and anti-aircraft missile and artillery complexes of regiment level. Regiment level units are characterized by their high rate of fire, vitality, maneuverability, and capability of action under all conditions of modern combat arms operations. Surface-to-air missile systems and complexes of division level are characterized by their long range and firepower and are equipped with surface-to-air missile complexes;S-300V,Osa, Buk, Buk-M1 and Tor. While anti-aircraft missile and artillery complexes that are of regiment level are equipped with the Tunguska-M1, Igla MANPADS system, Strela, and Shilka anti-aircraft missile systems.[27] While the army's only separate radar system, meaning it isn't a part of any anti-aircraft system, is the Ukrainian Kolchuga-M. It was designed sometime between the years 1993–1997, the system is said to be one the most (if not the most) advanced passive sensors in the world, as it was claimed to be able to detect stealth aircraft.[28]

Structure 2012[]

UA Ground Forces Commands

Ground Forces Commands
  Western Operational Command

Structure of Ukrainian Ground Forces at the end of 2011 was:[29]

Ukrainian Ground Forces

Incomplete structure of the Ukrainian Ground Forces (some units show their pre-2004 structure)

Ukrainian Ground Forces is located in Ukraine
Green pog
25th Airborne +
93rd Mech.
Red pog
79th Airmobile
Green pog
28th Mechanised
Gold pog
17th Armoured
Gold pog
1st Armoured
Green pog
30th Mech.
Red pog
95th Airmobile
Green pog
72nd Mechanised
Brown pog
26th Artillery
Green pog
24th Mech.
Green pog
51st Mechanised
Green pog
128th Mechanised
Brown pog
11th Artillery
Brown pog
55th Artillery
Pink pog
19th Rocket

Location of Ukraine Ground Forces brigades

Red – infantry, Green – mechanised
Gold – armoured, Brown – artillery, Pink – rocket

Strength and Military Equipment[]

2S19 Msta-S of the Ukrainian Army

Ukrainian 2S19 Msta self-propelled artillery units

BMP-2 parade ukraine

Ukrainian BMP-2s

Ex STEADFAST JAZZ (10710133174)

A Ukrainian BTR-80 Armoured Personnel Carrier deploys on to the battlefield during a live fire exercise

  • 57,000 Personnel (+ 6,100 in air-mobile forces) [30]
  • 686 Tanks (+ 41 in Navy)[30]
  • 2,065 (+ 310 in air-mobile forces and 160 in Navy) Armoured Combat Vehicles[30]
  • 72 Combat Helicopters[30]
  • 716 (+ 47 in Navy) Artillery Systems[30]


Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
T-84 Oplot-M Flag of Ukraine Ukraine 10
T-64BM "Bulat" Flag of Ukraine Ukraine 85[31]
T-64 Flag of Ukrainian SSR Ukrainian SSR 1000 (~700 T-64B and T-64BV in service)
T-80UD Flag of Ukrainian SSR Ukrainian SSR 167 (Ukrainian diesel version, stored as reserve)
T-72 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 1302 (stored as reserve)

APC's and IFV's

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
BMP-1 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
1008[32] (some upgraded with Shkval turret)
BMP-2 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 1434[32]
BMP-3 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 4 (not used, in reserve)
BTR-60 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 176[32]
BTR-70 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 1026[32] (some upgraded with diesel engine)
BTR-80 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 456[32]
BTR-4 Flag of Ukraine Ukraine 10[33]
MT-LB Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Flag of Poland Poland
HMMWV United States 12 vehicles donated by the United States to UKRPOLBAT.[34][35][36][37]

Combat Helicopters

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
Mil Mi-8 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 30
Mil Mi-9 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 2
Mil Mi-24 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 40
Mil Mi-26 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 19 (stored)


Name Country of origin Type Quantity Notes
BM-21 "Grad" Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union MRL 122 mm 450 [38]
9P140 "Uragan" Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union MRL 220 mm 76 [38]
9A52-2 "Smerch" Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union MRL 300mm 100 [38]
2S1 "Gvozdika" Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union SP howitzer 122mm 638 [32]
2S3 "Akatsiya" Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union SP howitzer 152mm 501
2S5 "Giatsint-S" Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union SP gun 152mm 24 [32]
2S19 "Msta-S" Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union SP howitzer 152mm 40 [32][38]
D-20 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 152mm howitzer 224
D-30 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union Howitzer 122mm 443
Armies of Ukraine
Alex K Kievan Rus.Kyivan Rus' / Alex K Halych-Volhynia-flag Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia
Chorągiew królewska króla Zygmunta III Wazy Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Flag of the Cossack Hetmanat Zaporizhian Host
War flag of Austria-Hungary (1918) Austria-Hungary
Flag of the Ukrainian People's Republic Ukrainian People's Republic
RPAU flag Free Territory
Flag of the UPA Carpatho-Ukraine
Flag of the UPA Ukrainian National Government
Flag of the Ukrainian SSR Ukrainian SSR
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine

Anti-Aircraft Note: This list does not include other anti-aircraft systems employed by the air defence forces

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
S-300V1 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (SA-12 Gladiator) [39]
Kolchuga passive sensor Flag of Ukraine Ukraine (Ukrainian-designed)
Tor Missile System Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (SA-15 Gauntlet)
9K37 Buk Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (SA-11 Gadfly)
9K37M1-2 Buk-M1-2 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (SA-17 Grizzly)
9K35 Strela-10 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (SA-13 Gopher)
Tunguska M1 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (SA-19 Grison)
ZSU-23-4 "Shilka Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
9K38 Igla Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (SA-18 Grouse)

Small arms

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
AK-74 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union Standard Issue Rifle for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
AKM Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Makarov PM Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Fort 12 Flag of Ukraine Ukraine (Ukrainian designed) [40]
RPK-74 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
RPK Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
PKM Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Dragunov SVD Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
9M113 Konkurs Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (AT-5 Spandrel)
9M111 Fagot Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union (AT-4 Spigot)
9K115-2 Metis-M Flag of Russia Russia (AT-13 Saxhorn-2)
9M133 Kornet Flag of Russia Russia (AT-14 Spriggan)
RPG-29 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
RPG-22 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
RPG-7 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Corsar Flag of Ukraine Ukraine In testing[41]

See also[]


  1. [1]
  2. Culture Smart! Ukraine by Anna Shevchenko, Kuperard, 2006, ISBN 978-1-85733-327-5
  3. Abbott, P. & E. Pinak Ukrainian Armies 1914–55 (Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2004), ISBN 1780964013, 9781780964010
  4. ANALYSIS: Ukraine adopts program for military reform, 03/02/1997
  5. See references at 6th Guards Tank Army and 6th Army Corps (Ukraine). On 1 December 1993, 8th Guards Tank Army became 8th Army Corps.
  6. Jane's Sentinel: Ukraine, 1994
  7. Yuriy Yurchnya, 'The Armed Forces of Ukraine,' DCAF, 2010, 89.
  8. Stephen D. Olynyk, Ukraine as a Post-Cold War Military Power, Joint Force Quarterly, Spring 1997, 93.
  9. Andrew Duncan, 'Ukraine's forces find that change is good,' Jane's Intelligence Review, April 1997, 162–3.
  10. Yurchnya, 2010, 91.
  11. Interfax-AVN, 'Ukrainian army's Northern Operational Command being disbanded,' Interfax-AVN military news agency web site, Moscow, in English 1152 gmt 27 Jul 05 via BBC Monitoring.
  12. , page 4 of 136
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ukrainian Armed Forces 2006 White Book p.25
  14. Ukrainian Armed Forces 2006 White Book p.26
  15. Ukrainian Armed Forces 2007 White Book p.42
  16. (Ukrainian) Minister of Defence visits 1st Armored Brigade
  17. (Ukrainian) People's Army Magazine
  18. IISS Military Balance 1992/3, p 86, and Military Balance 2008, p 188
  19. (Ukrainian) Brigade in Honcharivske receives new tanks
  20. (Ukrainian) Training in the 17th Armored Brigade
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Lenskiy
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 22.6 Feskov, p.106
  23. See Ukrainian Army Aviation
  24. Военно-промышленный комплекс | Електронні вісті
  25. Ukrinform Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2003-10-25). "London, UK-based Institute for Strategic Studies appraises Ukrainian Armed Forces' personnel as 295,500-strong". Ukrainian Government. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  26. 26.0 26.1, accessed November 2012.
  27. Structure of Ukrainian Armed Forces
  29. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Ukrainian Armed Forces White Book 2011". Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 Ukrainian Armed Forces 2012 White Book p.68
  31. (Ukrainian) 29 T-64s to be upgraded to Bulats for 1st Armored Brigade
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 32.6 32.7 Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (5 July 2011). "Operation Shining Hope". Global Security. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  34. Новини Управління Прес-служби МО
  35. Новини Управління Прес-служби МО
  36. Новини Управління Прес-служби МО
  37. Новини Управління Прес-служби МО
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3
  39. Armament of Ukrainian Armed Forces
  41. Ukraine has tested the new light portable anti-tank missile system CORSAR -, 26 July 2013


  • International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2006.
  • Yuriy Yurchnya, 'The Armed Forces of Ukraine,' Geneva Centre for DCAF, 2010.

Further reading[]

External links[]

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