Ukrainian Foreign Minister asks US Secretary of State to urge European partners to deny Russia access to SWIFT

Heavily armed Russian troops are advancing rapidly towards the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and US officials are warning that the city could fall within days.

The military capabilities of these two nations are so out of balance that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky implored his Western allies overnight to do more than impose sanctions to get Russian troops out of Ukrainian soil.

Here’s how the military capabilities of the two countries compare.

Defense expenditure

A simple look at the amount of money the two nations spend on defense gives an indication of the gap between the two. Ukraine spent $4.7 billion in 2021, just over a tenth of nuclear-armed Russia’s $45.8 billion, according to the Institute’s “The Military Balance” report. Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), published last week.

While the Russian government launched a drive to modernize its military in 2008, after a brief war with Georgia exposed equipment shortages, Ukraine’s weapons still largely date from the soviet era. In its ambitions to join NATO, however, Ukraine has revamped the structure of its armed forces and plans to re-equip its air force with Western fighter jets by the mid-2030s. It also plans to improve its naval capability.


Where Russia has 900,000 active men in its armed forces and 2 million in reserve, Ukraine has 196,000 and 900,000 reservists. Ukraine began recruiting reservists between the ages of 18 and 60 on Wednesday, according to the IISS.

On the ground alone, Russia has a double advantage, with 280,000 men against 125,600 for Ukraine. And its air force is almost five times stronger, with 165,000 men against 35,000 for Ukraine.

But in terms of troop numbers in this particular operation, Yohann Michel, a research analyst who worked on the IISS report, said Russia had around 200,000 troops in and around Ukraine.

“It includes around 60 battlegroups. The situation is changing rapidly and that number could change, but it is very important, and it is important. It is one of the largest in Eastern Europe that we have seen for years – in my lifetime,” Michel told CNN.

“The Ukrainian numbers are more difficult because all they have now is mobilized and they have brought in reserves.”

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