About 40,000 women are currently serving in Ukraine’s armed forces as the beleaguered country seeks to fend off continued Russian attacks. More than 5,000 of them are also on the front line of combat operations, Lieutenant General Serhiy Naev, of the High Command of the Armed Forces, told Ukrainian television on Friday.
Ukraine has 8,000 female officers, he added. All military assignments are open to women, and within the ranks of the armed forces there are female snipers and commanders of vehicles, artillery units and drones.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said in the past that women make up 22% of Ukraine’s armed forces. At the start of the Russian invasion in February, the army numbered around 200,000.
Men of fighting age have previously been prohibited from leaving Ukraine, having instead to be drafted into the defence forces. Yet the female face of Ukraine's military strength is less well-known.
The fighting shows no sign of abating as both Ukraine and Russia are rearming themselves. Most recently, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement on Friday that Ukraine will receive an additional $725m package of weapons and other military assistance.
I have directed another drawdown of arms and equipment worth $725 million from @DeptofDefense inventories to Ukraine, our 23rd drawdown since August 2021. As Ukraine’s defenders push back Russia’s forces, the United States stands #UnitedWithUkraine.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) October 15, 2022
For its part, Belgium is donating a further €12 million in military aid to Ukraine in addition to the €45 million of equipment that Belgium’s Ministry of Defence has already transferred to Ukraine. Belgium's most recent aid package includes supplies to help civilians during the winter.