Close-combat gear: Ukrainian vs Russian soldier.

While the war in Ukraine, ignited by the Russian invasion, rages on. Countries that are defining themselves on the side of Ukraine are sending in weaponry, gear, vehicles, money and humanitarian supplies such as food, water, blankets and medicine. It is no secret that Ukraine pleads for a more active involvement from it’s allies like an enforced closed airspace or even boots on the ground. But as of now, it is only receiving stuff rather than men. But it would be a mistake to classify this involvement of allies to be useless. Fact is that Ukraine has now enough weapons to arm it’s active personnel and those that are still in training to be send to the frontlines. A question however that could be asked is how the average Ukrainian soldier stacks up to it’s Russian foe in close-combat. Ranging from the weapon a soldier carries, it’s transport vehicle and anti-vehicle launcher. So, let’s compare.

The soldier.

Reibert (CC by 2.0)
Vitaly V. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Compared to each other, both Ukraine and Russia carry many similarities in regard of weaponry used on the battlefield. As they were both members of the Soviet Union they used many of the same rifles with most of them stemming from the same ‘weapon-family’, namely the AK family. The Ukrainian ground forces use the AK-74 as their standard assault rifle while their Russian counterparts use the AK-74M, a more modern variant of the weapon. Both weapons use a 5.45×39 mm bullet which pierces body-armor. These weapons are easy in maintenance and have a reputation of being highly reliable. (Note that the orange colors of the AK-74 are often seen as plain black just as the AK-74M).


Сергей Сандалов (CC BY-SA 4.0)


RussianTrooper (CC0 1.0)

Both countries also have a special forces branch. These people are more intensively trained and have a broader skillset to deploy during battles and war. Therefore more money is invested in them which gives them other weapons that could range from being more modern or simply more versatile in use. Ukraine produces the Malyuk assault rifle, yet another variant on the AK family while the Russian special forces use the ASM Val. The Malyuk is often seen with a suppressor on while the ASM Val has a fixed, non-removable, one. The Ukrainian special forces however have also been seen with AK-74M’s and versions of the American invented M4.


VoidWanderer (CC BY-SA 4.0)


Vitaly V. Kuzmin (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Besides the standard used assault rifles by the Ukrainian army, the country has been receiving thousands and thousands of foreign weaponry in aid. Almost all countries in the European Union and NATO are sending in assault weapons like the FB MSBS Grot C16A2 from Poland, the FN SCAR-L from Belgium, the Colt M4 from the USA and the CZ 805 BREN from the Czech Republic. These are just four examples of the dozens+ designs and variants Ukraine is receiving from abroad.

FB MSBS Grot – Poland

Doxlulzem (CC BY-SA 4.0)

FN SCAR-L – Belgium

Doxlulzem (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Colt M4A1 – USA

Jackolmos (CC BY-SA 3.0)

CZ 805 BREN – Czech Republic

A209 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The transport vehicle.

Both countries use similar armored transport vehicles. The Ukrainians use the BTR-4 which is designed and manufactured domestically while the Russians use the BTR-80 which is also designed and manufactured in it’s own country. The layout of the BTR-4 however marks a change compared to the previous BTR’s which stemmed from the Soviet Union. Ukraine’s designers looked more and more to the West and changed the location of the engine to the middle and the passenger compartment to the rear. Compared to the Russian BTR that has the engine in the back and the passenger cabin in the middle. Both countries have several variants of the vehicle with Ukraine having one prototype according fully to NATO standards while Russia has several others for different types of missions (think about recon missions with added telecommunications, anti-tank with added missiles, etc).

US Army Sgt. Alexander Rector (CC0)
Vitaly V. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Anti-tank – Rocket launchers

For the last category we see yet again a lot of influence that stemmed from the Soviet Union. Both countries use the RPG rocket launchers with Russia using many variants like the RPG-28 while Ukraine primarily uses the more iconic RPG-7 variant.


Vitaly V. (CC BY-SA 4.0)


Vitaly V. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Besides the RPG’s used by both sides, Ukraine has been supplied with many different systems from abroad that it is now using against Russia. Countries like The United States, Germany, Spain, Canada, Norway and others have been sending in launchers. Note that countries also send in systems from other countries that it buys from. Germany has for example send in M20 Super Bazookas that it bought from the United States. The list below shows rocket launchers active in Ukraine provided by partners and allies.

M20 Super Bazooka – USA

Bukvoed (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Panzerfraust 3 – Germany

Sonaz (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Alcotán-100 – Spain

Lobo Estepario (CC BY 2.0)


Zialater (CC0)

Of course a war isn’t won by weapons only. A country needs a significant number of men and the morale to push through. Both of these requirements haven’t been touched by this article but I do hope you as the reader developed a better picture of the weapons used in Ukraine during close-combat engagements. Did I make a mistake or leave out a vital piece of information? Send me an email through the form below.

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