Ein ukrainischer Soldat bewacht seine Stellung in Mariupol. Die prorussischen Separatisten setzen mit Unterstützung russischer Truppen ihren Vormarsch in der eingeschlossenen ukrainischen Hafenstadt Mariupol nach Angaben aus Kiew fort. +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

It was a number that made headlines in the past few days: According to British and German media, the Ukrainians allegedly want to gather a million soldiers for an offensive in the south of the country. Wait a minute: wasn’t there talk of a lack of fighters on Kiev’s side recently?

The confusion is easy to resolve and goes back to a thoughtless headline by colleagues at the British Times. They interviewed the Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov, and the result is quite exciting. However, the text was captioned: “Ukraine has one million ready for fightback to recapture south.” (source here).

Only nowhere in the article does it say that a million soldiers are ready to retake the south of the country (for all details on the planned offensive, see recommended reading below). Reznikov merely explains that in theory Ukraine has over a million adults who can use guns. His calculation goes like this: The regular armed forces have over 700,000 members, including 400,000 veterans. There would also be police, border guards and the national guard.

The military expert Philips O’Brien, who teaches in Scotland, assumes a Ukrainian troop strength of around 500,000. In addition to 80,000 trained soldiers and 400,000 partly trained soldiers, there are also volunteers from Germany and abroad. O’Brien has already included losses in his number.

And this is where the crux lies: Complex military operations can only be carried out with professionals. And since the reservoir of the Ukrainians is limited. Is it enough for a successful reconquest of the south? The coming weeks will show that.

1. Ukraine launches counter-offensive: Three factors on which success in southern Ukraine depends

2. The Russian Army’s personnel problem: Putin’s desperate search for the last reserves

3. “I really want to go back to Berlin”: A refugee from Ukraine who is a minor is suing the Senate