Since 1991, the four-year war with the former Soviet republic of Georgia that followed a successful ballot for independence, the years of turmoil in Ukraine have raised questions over its capacity to defend itself against foreign aggression.
The four-year war with the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 2008 forced Ukraine’s military back into the fold. It faced just as complex a situation in Crimea, where separatist protests helped usher in an emboldened Kiev government and the pro-Western Viktor Yanukovych became engulfed in a brutal coup. The Kyiv military claimed more than 1,000 casualties in the first three months of war before Moscow sent in troops to wrest control of the peninsula.
In both cases Ukraine lost the capacity to carry out the military operations it had been carrying out with Russian help. The conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region of the country has also tested the military’s ability to go it alone.
In September, after an upgrade in 2015, the Ukrainians were ready for battle. But where is their superior capacity at rest?
One issue is the aging army. The Ukrainian armed forces run on outdated weapons, some of which are the same weapons that their Soviet predecessors were using during the war with Georgia in 2008.