The number of armed forces is one of the key parameters, which characterizes army in general. That is why, the accurate data about the number and full strength of the armed forces is a highly sensitive information throughout the entire world, and, especially, in the country that prosecutes a war.
However, taking into consideration the recent laments about fully devastated Ukrainian army in Donbass, where 70-80-kilometer front is allegedly kept by a company of mobilized peasants under the command of a second lieutenant, who graduated from reserve-officer training department in a state institute, it is advisable to dwell on this issuea little bit.
At the beginning of the conflict in Donbass, according to the law 'About the number of Armed Forces of Ukraine', the total strength of Ukrainian Armed Forces consisted of 184 thousand people, while 134 thousand men, in particular, represented service personnel. It is worth mentioning that Ukrainian Army already converted to an all-volunteer military serviceat that moment, and only conscription into internal troops remained. Thus, the strength of army units should be estimated at 60-70%.
Deplorable events in Crimea caused even greater decrease in military personnel of AFU. According to Judge Advocate General Matios, 9500 military servicemen of Ukrainian Army did not arrive at certain home stations and remained at the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Consequently, the total strength of the Ukrainian Army at the time when ATO began comprised no more than 120 thousand people. Moreover, this strength was 'tidily distributed' throughout the entire territory of the country, and no more than 3500 thousand people in separate battalion groups were sent to the battle zone (considering the fact that 6-8 battalion groups were simultaneously present in Donbass), which means there was no more than 5% of the available personnel.
The increase in the scope of combat operations required the upsurge of the available personnel. Thus, six mobilization waves became inevitable since they were formalized in legislation in spring 2015, when a new law was adopted, determining the number of AFU up to 250 thousand people.
In the meantime, new formations appeared and 14 new brigades were created at once. Against the background of unvarnished problems with the economy, the country somehow managed to rearrange expansion of military personnel (however, the situation with military equipment has been worse – years of the army’s disorganization became evident). Firm measures aimed to increase the number of volunteer military servicemen significantly contributed to the army’s expansion. In the first place, we mean the increase in money allowance (notorious 7 thousand hryvnias).
Therefore, as of today, it can be said that the combat might of Ukrainian Armed Forces will reach its peak level during the 4th or 5th wave of demobilization (spring – summer, 2016). However, its peak is 70-75% of personnel in army units, which are situated directly in the lines, while numbers behind the lines will be, unfortunately, much lower.
That is why, all those indignations, which are continually spoken out by different 'war experts', currently have no urgent reasons. According to some reports, about 70 thousand of military men are presently concentrated in the lines, which, at any rate, is one and a half times larger than a 'hybrid' army of 'DLNR'. And yes, this is apparently the maximum number of the front linearmed forces a Ukrainian budget can allow nowadays.
Further attempt to increase military forces will face formation of the reserve of an outdated Soviet-style equipment, a certain 'ammunition hunger', and there has already been a shot across the bow.
Subsequently, the efforts of the General Staff on operational coordination of newly created brigades to form a skeleton staff from motivated contract soldiers seem quite useful. On the other hand, the Ministry of Defense makes titanic efforts in order to obtain new military equipment, as well as to restart the old one.
As of today, a rotational principle is quite a standard practice, when composite groups from at least five brigades are simultaneously located on the front.
In conclusion, the number of military personnel of the 'hybrid' army should also be mentioned. According to the most adequate estimations, it consists of around 40 thousand people, which is a very small number for a front of 400 kilometers. Besides, mobilization reserve of 'young republics' is reasonably low, taking into account around 2 million of refugees both in Russia and Ukraine. Therefore, diplomatic and sanctioned pressure on the Kremlin is a priority of the foreign policy of our state.