WARSAW — Yuriy Biriukov, an adviser to Ukraine's defense minister, says the ministry must raise its budget to some 100 billion hryvnia (US $4.65 billion) per year to increase the number of professional troops in the armed forces.
Increased military expenditure by Kiev is necessary to build a military in which "the ratio of professional troops to conscripts is 60 to 40," Biriukov told local broadcaster Hromadske TV.
Currently, only about 50,000 out of Ukraine's 250,000 troops are professionals with signed contracts. But to ensure that Ukraine can effectively defend its territory against Russia-backed insurgents in the country's east, the military needs more contract soldiers, Biriukov said. This year, the Defense Ministry has a budget of some 40 billion hryvnia.
In late March, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law which expanded the country's military personnel to 250,000. The law on the size of the armed forces of Ukraine was adopted by the parliament March 5, and it states that the size of the Ukrainian military "should not exceed 250,000 [troops]."
With the conflict in eastern Ukraine continuing, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry is carrying out a major military modernization program with the aim of upgrading its weapons and equipment, and acquiring new gear. State-run defense giant Ukroboronprom says that in 2015, the group supplied 3,936 units of new and modernized military equipment to the country's armed forces.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.