Report to Congress on Ukrainian military performance

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The Congressional Research Service Infocus report of November 3, 2022 follows: Ukrainian Military Performance and Prospects.

From the report

Since Russia’s renewed invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) have successfully defended themselves and repelled Russian forces in many areas, despite several apparent drawbacks. The UAF has shown great flexibility during the conflict so far, as well as an ability to integrate Western security assistance and training into its military campaigns. The UAF continues to face obstacles that maintain momentum against Russian forces. Ukraine’s resistance has been accompanied by losses of personnel and equipment, and both sides face risks as they enter the winter season.

Since early 2022, the Biden administration and Congress have strongly supported the defense of Ukraine’s territorial integrity against Russian invasion. The evolving state of the UAF may be of interest to Congress as members continue to weigh options and monitor policies aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression.

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Some observers note that the UAF’s impressive overall performance to date is due in part to the experience and motivation of its staff. The UAF continues to benefit from high levels of recruitment and motivation. However, the high casualties pose an ongoing challenge to the UAF’s ability to maintain effective and sustained operations.

After Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the UAF gained significant combat experience fighting Russian-led forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk (known as Donbass). This led to a large proportion of trained and experienced veterans among the Ukrainian population. These veterans and other volunteers (including foreign recruits) were quickly mobilized into Ukraine’s new Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) and volunteer reserve without the need for lengthy training. The high level of experience and training of recruits allowed them to use artillery, tank and support systems that traditionally required more time to master by reservists or volunteers. These units were crucial in supporting regular UAF units and enabling them to conduct operations and counter-offensives.

Since the beginning of the 2022 war, the UAF have reportedly suffered a high number of casualties. Casualties are likely higher among regular UAF and Special Forces units, leading to greater reliance on TDF and reserve units. Unlike the initial period of the war, when most recruits were veterans, most new recruits and volunteers had little military experience and therefore took longer to train.

Download the document here.

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