Ukraine girds for confrontation

“The Ukrainian military is not in a good state when it comes to trying to face Russia in any sort of armed confrontation,” says Paul Floyd, a military analyst with the global-intelligence firm Stratfor. “The Ukraine military as we see it today is relatively weak compared [with Russia’s]. It’s fairly underfunded, and a lot of its equipment is basically mothballed. It’s just not been a national priority until very recently. . . . [Russia has] an overwhelming amount of firepower compared to what Ukraine can muster.”

As Floyd also notes, the loyalty of Ukraine’s police and military forces is also in question. Some were appointed by the now-deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, who was Vladmir Putin’s puppet, and others began their careers during Ukraine’s Soviet days. The Russian media reported that at least 5,500 Ukrainian soldiers defected in Crimea during the Russian invasion. That number is likely inflated, but there are confirmed instances of Ukrainian soldiers’ switching sides in Crimea.

Dmitry shrugs away suggestions that the Ukrainian armed forces have questionable loyalty. “The people I was with [in Crimea] were ready to defend their country,” he says, adding that “I’ve met a lot of people in the military, and all of them are ready to defend. We’re not in panic.”