Date of Graduation

Spring 5-9-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Filip Kovacevic


The Armed Forces of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Збройні сили України (ЗСУ), Zbroyni Syly Ukrayiny, (ZSU)) were once internationally unknown, having fought no wars since the fall of the USSR in 1991. However, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ZSU has become a topic of international debate and one that is discussed daily between major think tanks and war studies institutions, along with the world’s most powerful militaries. Looking back to 1991, I discuss how the ZSU came to be, how they dealt with Russian and partisan transgressions in Ukraine, and how they have evolved from their interactions with the West and Russia. I use the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 as a major case study on how the ZSU changed course and made efforts to remove inherited corruption and create a force capable of standing up to Russian offensive capabilities. Alongside the evolution of the ZSU, I analyze the evolution of Ukrainian legislation and measures to become more international and involved in NATO. The ZSU was once a highly politicized military structure with corruption inherently strong due to past Soviet governance. The main point of this research is to illuminate how much has changed since the ZSU came to be from Ukraine’s independence and what the ZSU could have/can improve(d) upon.