Ukraine plans to expand its armed forces by 100,000 personnel over three years. Currently, the country has an estimated 215,000 active-duty military personnel.
President Volodimir Zelensky announced the expansion and said the country has never had such support from a military and diplomatic point of view. Russia has concentrated many troops along its border with Ukraine, and there are concerns about an imminent attack.
Zelensky again warned that panic should not be spread about an imminent Russian attack. The country’s economy, which struggles to survive, would suffer damage. Last week, Zelenski also called for calm.
It is not clear what role the extra soldiers will have. Hundreds of thousands of people reach military age every year. But there is not enough money available for equipment and pay for a very large army. On paper, Ukraine spends a lot of money on defence, but the expenditure per soldier is much less than in most other European countries.
Ukraine barely had a functioning army at the start of the armed conflicts in the east in 2014. Many conscripts who actually stood up for their military service lacked equipment. The equipment was also outdated. Since 2014, much to Russia’s chagrin, the country has had much support from Western countries, especially the US, in the reconstruction and training of armed forces.