Ukraine's stated national policy is Euro-Atlantic integration, with both NATO and the European Union. Ukraine has a "Distinctive Partnership" with NATO and has been an active participant in Partnership for Peace exercises and in peacekeeping in the Balkans. This close relationship with NATO has been most apparent in Ukrainian cooperation and combined peacekeeping operation with its neighbor Poland, in Kosovo. Ukrainian serviceman also serve under NATO command in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Operation Active Endeavour. However, the continuing relationship with Russia complicates these linkages.
On August 24, 1991, the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, enacted a resolution to take jurisdiction over all formations of the armed forces of the former Soviet Union stationed on Ukrainian soil, and to establish one of the key agencies, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.
Inherent in the process of creating a domestic military were political decisions by the Ukrainian leadership regarding the country's non-nuclear and international status. Included in this was the definition, agreement and ratification of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) which not only established the maximum level of armament for each republic of the former USSR, but also a special ceiling for the so-called CFE "Flank Region". Included in the region were Ukraine's Mykolaiv, Kherson, Zaporizhia Oblasts, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Also key for the creation of a Ukrainian military was the 1992 Tashkent Treaty, which laid out aspirations for a CIS military that would prove impossible to develop because the former republics of the USSR all wished to go their own way, ripping the intricate Soviet military machine into pieces.
The military and security forces, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine and a number of independent "militarized institutions" (paramilitary forces) are under the command of the President of Ukraine, and subject to oversight by a permanent parliamentary commission. The Ukrainian military tactics and organization are heavily dependent on Cold War tactics, and former Soviet Union organization. Ukraine has however been pursuing a policy of independence from Russian dominance, and have taken steps towards closer ties with the West. However, Ukraine retains tight military relations with Russia, mostly inherited from the common Soviet history. Common use of naval bases in Crimean and joint air defense efforts are the most intense branches of such cooperation. This cooperation is a permanent irritant in bilateral relations. But the country is unable to drop such ties quickly, being economically dependent on Moscow.
Plagued at times by hostile relations with Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been steadfastly trying to develop its own independent military industry. Notable results of this effort are the Ukrainian-built T-84 main battle tank, currently in service, and the aircraft manufacturer Antonov. Ukraine received about 30% of the Soviet military industry, which included between 50 and 60 percent of all Ukrainian enterprises, which employed 40% of its working population. Ukraine was, and still remains, a leader in missile-related technology. Especially navigation electronics for combat vessels and submarines, guidance systems, and radar for military jets. Tough competition in the world's weapons market obliged Ukraine to consider exporting arms to politically unstable or even aggressive regimes. Ukraine build its own connections in arms exporting. The first contracts on weapons deliveries to Iran, signed in the middle of 1992, and caused negative reaction in the West (particularly in the US).
The Ukrainian armed forces are largely made up of conscripts. The total personnel (including 43,000 civilian workers) numbers at the end of 2008 will be 191,000. In July 2008, there is 149,000 military personnel. The branch structure is as follows:
Ukraine has plentiful amounts of highly enriched uranium, which the United States wanted to buy from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology. Ukraine also has two uranium mining and processing factories, a heavy water plant, a technology for making electronic to determine the isotopic composition of fissionable materials. Ukraine has deposits of uranium that are among the world’s richest. In May 1992, Ukraine signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in which the country agreed to give up all nuclear weapons, and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. Ukraine ratified the treaty in 1994, and as of January 1, 1996, no military nuclear equipment or materials remained on Ukrainian territory.
On 13 May 1994, the United States and Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Transfer of Missile Equipment and Technology. This agreement committed Ukraine to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) by controlling exports of missile-related equipment and technology according to the MTCR Guidelines.
Ukraine has been playing an increasingly larger role in peacekeeping operations. Since 1992, over 30,000 soldiers took part in missions in former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Eastern Slavonia, Kosovo), Middle East (Southern Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq), African Continent (Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia).
Since 1997, Ukraine has been closely working with NATO, and especially Poland. A Ukrainian unit was deployed in Iraq, as part of the multinational force in Iraq under Polish command. Ukrainian troops are also deployed as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion (UKRPOLBAT) in Kosovo. The total Ukrainian military deployment around the world as of May 28, 2008 is 570 servicemen participating in 11 peacekeeping missions in 9 countries.
The first battle of a regular formation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces happened on April 6, 2004 in Kut, Iraq, when the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent was attacked by militants of the Mahdi Army. The Ukrainians took fire, and over several hours held the objectives they had been assigned to secure.
Although not the parts of Armed Forces, these militarized institutions are supposed to fall under Armed Forces' command during wartime.