Report to Congress on Ukrainian military performance
The following November 3, 2022, Congressional Research Service InFocus Report: Ukrainian Military Performance and Outlook.
from the report
Since Russia’s renewed invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) have successfully defended against and pushed back Russian forces in several areas, despite several apparent losses. The UAF has demonstrated considerable resilience during conflict to date, as well as the ability to integrate Western security support and training into its military operations. The UAF is facing hurdles in maintaining the momentum against the Russian army. Ukraine’s resistance has come with losses in personnel and equipment, and both sides are at risk of entering the winter season.
Since early 2022, the Biden administration and Congress have strongly supported the defense of Ukraine’s territorial integrity against Russian aggression. The developed state of the UAF could be of interest to Congress as members continue to weigh options and oversee policies to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression.
Some observers have noted that the UAF’s impressive overall performance so far is due to the experience and motivation of its personnel. The UAF continues to benefit from a high level of recruitment and motivation. High losses, however, pose a constant challenge to the ability of the UAF to maintain effective, continuous operations.
Following 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 population of Ukraine. These veterans and other volunteers (including foreign recruits) were quickly mobilized into Ukraine’s new Volunteer Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) and reserves, without the need for lengthy training. The high level of experience and training among recruits meant that they were able to operate artillery, tanks and support systems that traditionally required reservists or volunteers more time to master. These units have been instrumental in supporting regular UAF units and enabling them to conduct operations and countermeasures.
Since the start of the 2022 war, the UAF has reportedly suffered a high level of casualties. Losses are likely to be greater between regular UAF and Special Forces units, leading to greater reliance on TDF and reserve units. Unlike the early period of the war, when most recruits were ex-servicemen, most new recruits and volunteers have little military experience and, as a result, take longer to train.
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