If a full-fledged war erupts, Ukraine’s military would be dwarfed by its neighbor to the north. As of last month, Russian armed forces numbered 774,500 versus 139,000 for Ukraine, according to Jane’s Information Group. And Russia’s defense budget — $78 billion in 2012 — dwarfs that of Ukraine — $1.6 billion in 2012, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.
An article published in June 2011 cited a military expert’s prediction that Ukraine would find itself in a “defensive vacuum” for a decade if investment were to remain unchanged. Valentin Badrak, director of the Ukrainian Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, was quoted in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper — cited by Jane’s — as saying that programs for developing the Ukrainian Armed Forces were “at a zero level.”
The government, pointing to a 2010 study, said there was no need for a big army because Ukraine’s primary threats came not from the outside but from internal political destabilisation. According to the CIA World Factbook, Ukraine has 15.7 million males and females ages 16-49 fit for military service.
Compare that with 45.6 million Russians of similar age who are fit for military service. Those figures may have been on the mind of Ukraine’s acting defense minister, Ihor Tenyuh, on Sunday. He told a closed session of parliament then that Ukraine does not have the military force to resist Russia, according to two parliamentary members present at the meeting.