Editor’s note: This story used to mistakenly refer to GlobalFirepower.com as a “defense think tank.” It was brought to our attention by Bellingcat, who looked into the website after Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko made the same mistake when quoting the Global Power ranking.
Global Firepower, a U.S.-based website focusing on defense, has placed Ukraine 29th in its 2018 global ranking of military power.
Ukraine has risen one place compared to its 2017 ranking. The ranking covers 132 countries.
This year, the website said, Ukraine’s military strength is closest to that of Greece (ranked 28th) and the Czech Republic (30th place.)
According to the website, countries are ranked in accordance with their so-called PowerIndex score – an index determined by rating over 55 various factors, including a nation’s available manpower, geography, resources, level of domestic financial stability, membership of military alliances, infrastructure, and the variety, development and quality of its weapons.
The rating, however, does not take into account nuclear capabilities.
When calculating the index, each nation starts with an initial score of zero – which is the ideal rating. In the course of the estimation, negative factors add points to the figure, while positive features subtract points. Thus, the more powerful the nation’s military is, the closer its PowerIndex score is to zero.
GFP’s formula thus allows smaller though more technically developed military powers to be compared with huge but less modernized military powers, the project’s authors say.
Predictably enough, the United States is ranked the world’s strongest military power with a 0.0818 index. The weakest – Bhutan in 136th place – scores 7.5497 points.
Ukraine, with its 29th place in 2018, has a PowerIndex of 0.5383. Last year, its index was 0.5715 points.
Providing more details, Global Firepower estimated the nation’s active service manpower at 182,000 troops, in addition to more 1 million persons in reserve.
However, this estimate differs from the official data repeatedly provided by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. According to Ukraine’s military, the nation’s armed forces has already reached the limit of 250,000 troops on the active duty imposed by the nation’s current legislation.
Besides, Global Firepower said Ukraine’s defense budget was some $4.8 billion in 2018, 40th biggest in the world, and comparable to the defense budgets of Malaysia, Belgium or Switzerland.
However, according to the 2018 budget approved in the mid-December 2017, Ukraine this year allocated Hr 165.3 billion ($6.1 billion) to security and defense, or nearly 6 percent of the nation’s expected gross domestic product, with Hr 86 billion ($3.1 billion) to be spent on the armed forces alone.
Global Firepower said Ukraine currently fields 2,214 main battle tanks, 11,868 infantry fighting vehicles, and 2,971 self-propelled and towed artillery pieces, and 625 rocket systems.
It also estimated that Ukraine has 240 aircraft in service, including 39 fighters, 64 attack aircraft, 121 transport aircraft and 46 trainer aircraft, in addition to 94 helicopters, including 34 attack helicopters.
Compared to 2017, Ukraine’s military has at its disposal significantly more infantry fighting vehicles and artillery guns, and more jets, combat helicopters, and transport aircraft, the website said.
However, Global Firepower said Ukraine’s navy, which lost most of its vessels during Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, remains weak. As of today, Ukraine’s navy has a single frigate, one corvette, and one minesweeping vessel.
However, the number of Ukraine’s patrol boats has increased from three to 12.
The 2018 rating also shows Ukraine still lags far behind its enemy, Russia, which is the world’s second most potent military power with a PowerIndex of 0.0841.
Moreover, Ukraine is still outgunned by all of Europe’s main militaries, including those of France, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, and Greece.
Despite that, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since the fall of 2015 repeatedly insisted that Ukraine is one of the continent’s top-ranked militaries.
“Over the past four years, we have not only successfully resurrected the Ukrainian army, but we have also turned our armed forces into one of the most effective armies in Europe,” Poroshenko said on April 15 after Ukrainian paratroopers underwent SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) training in Poland.
According to this year’s rating, the world’s top five militaries are the United States, Russia, China, India, and France – the same as in 2017.
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