Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has backed a fundraising campaign to buy 100 drones that operate at sea.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has backed a fundraising campaign to help Ukraine build a naval fleet of drones to protect cities against Russian missiles launched from warships in the Black Sea.
United24, an initiative Zelenskyy launched to collect charitable donations after Russia’s invasion in February, said Ukraine needed 100 drones to operate from the sea, each costing 10 million hryvnias (about $274,000).
The fundraising site said that since the invasion began, Russia has launched more than 4,500 missiles at Ukraine and “one in five attacks came from the sea.”
“We must defend the waters of our seas and peaceful cities from Russian ship-launched missiles,” Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Friday.
“Naval drones will also help unlock the corridor for civilian grain-carrying ships for the world,” he said.
Since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has carried out missile attacks from ships in the Black Sea and from Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014 and which is home to the Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet. .
Russia has also used aerial drones, including so-called Iranian-made “kamikaze” models, to attack Kyiv and key infrastructure across the country.
Russia began blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports shortly after the February invasion, including blocking the vital international export of grain. Three Ukrainian ports were unblocked under a deal brokered with Russia in July by the United Nations and Turkey to help ease a global food crisis.
Russia then suspended its participation in the grain deal after what it said was a Ukrainian attack on three of its Black Sea Fleet ships late last month by a combined force of air and naval drones. Moscow then returned to the deal, which is due to expire next week.
“I am sure that millions of people will support this important area of Ukraine’s defense,” Zelenskyy wrote of the naval drone fundraising campaign.
“Everyone has already seen how it works,” he said.
Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied being behind the October air and sea drone attack on the Russian fleet, which according to a statement posted on the United24 website was the first such attack in the months-long conflict carried out exclusively by unmanned devices.
“Russia has lost its undeniable advantage in the water,” the United24 statement said.
In July, Zelenskyy launched a “Drone Army” appeal for private money to buy a fleet of military-grade aerial drones from countries around the world to use in the war against Russia.
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