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If judged by the numbers, Ukraine's military loses war with Russia

By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 9:35 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russia's armed forces number 774,500; Ukraine has just 139,000, a report says
  • Acting defense minister said to believe Ukraine doesn't have the military force to prevail
  • Ukraine's government has seen its main threats as internal destabilization

(CNN) -- If a full-fledged war erupts, Ukraine's military would be dwarfed by its neighbor to the north.

As of last month, Russian armed forces numbered 774,500 versus 139,000 for Ukraine, according to Jane's Information Group.

And Russia's defense budget -- $78 billion in 2012 -- dwarfs that of Ukraine -- $1.6 billion in 2012, according to Jane's Defence Weekly.

An article published in June 2011 cited a military expert's prediction that Ukraine would find itself in a "defensive vacuum" for a decade if investment were to remain unchanged.

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Valentin Badrak, director of the Ukrainian Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, was quoted in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper -- cited by Jane's -- as saying that programs for developing the Ukrainian Armed Forces were "at a zero level."

The government, pointing to a 2010 study, said there was no need for a big army because Ukraine's primary threats came not from the outside but from internal political destabilization.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Ukraine has 15.7 million males and females ages 16-49 fit for military service.

Compare that with 45.6 million Russians of similar age who are fit for military service.

Those figures may have been on the mind of Ukraine's acting defense minister, Ihor Tenyuh, on Sunday. He told a closed session of parliament then that Ukraine does not have the military force to resist Russia, according to two parliamentary members present at the meeting.

He called for diplomacy to resolve the crisis with Russia, they said.

Journalist Victoria Butenko in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

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