When news of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine first reached the world, everyone had doubts if Ukraine could defend itself. 

Ukraine’s military capabilities, after all, were nowhere near that of Russia. Plus, with over five thousand nuclear warheads in its arsenal,  Russia winning the war, if push came to shove, seemed like a foregone conclusion. Talking heads and even a handful of analysts did not ask who was going to win the war, but how quickly the Ukrainian forces would hand over a win to the Russian military, and on a platter. 

Ukraine certainly hasn’t won the war yet, but they have so far overcome many of the odds stacked against them. They have proven that though military power is important, it means very little if your troops don’t know how to wield that power. Russia making so many decisive mistakes tells us as much.

Here’s how the Ukrainian Army managed to thwart Putin’s main war objectives, demonstrating their remarkable counteroffensive abilities and essentially making their undersized military better than Russia’s larger, more equipped one.

The Ukrainians Western Military Training Is Key to Their Advantage

“In no other profession are the penalties for employing untrained personnel so appalling or so irrevocable as in the military.”– Douglas MacArthur

Ukraine has been reforming its military with the help of Western advisers, trainers, and equipment since its loss of Crimea to Russia in 2014. Their goal is to have a military force that can perform up to NATO standards. 

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said, “Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have received training since 2014, and that pace has accelerated following Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February. U.S. service members are providing Ukrainian soldiers with training on various weapons systems that we’re providing to Ukraine.”

Ukrainian Forces man the Avenger air defense system. Screenshot from YouTube and US Military News

Adopting NATO fighting tactics, the Ukrainian military’s warfighting capabilities have improved. They have won many battles by combining modern strategies with older military hardware from the Soviet era. And even with a majority of modern weapons systems, Russia stood little chance in many battles.