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 drone fleet to protect cities against Russian missiles launched from warships on the Black Sea.
United24, an initiative Zelenskyy launched to raise charitable donations following Russia’s invasion in February, said Ukraine needed 100 drones operating from the sea, each of which costs 10 million hryvnias (around $274,000).
The fundraising site said that since the invasion began, Russian has launched over 4,500 missiles into Ukraine and “every fifth strike came from the sea”.
“We must defend the waters of our seas and peaceful cities from Russian missiles launched from ships,” Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Friday.
“Naval drones will also help unblock the corridor for civilian ships transporting grain for the world,” he said.
Since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has carried out missile strikes from ships in the Black Sea and from Crimea, the peninsula 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 Iranian-made so-called “kamikaze” models, to attack Kyiv and key infrastructure across the country.
Russia started blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports soon 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 later suspended its participation in the grain deal after what it said was a Ukrainian attack on three of its Black Sea Fleet vessels late last month from a combined force of aerial and naval drones. Moscow later 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 defence,” Zelenskyy wrote of the naval drone fundraising campaign.
“Everyone has already seen how it works,” he said.
Ukraine has not confirmed or denied it was behind the October air and sea drone attack on the Russian fleet, which a statement posted on the United24 website said was the first such strike in the months-long conflict carried out exclusively by unmanned devices.
“Russia has lost its once-undeniable advantage on the water,” the statement on United24 said.
In July, Zelenskyy launched an “Army of Drones” appeal for private cash to buy a fleet of military-grade aerial drones from countries around the world for use in the war against Russia.