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We need ‘lots of drones’ from the West to help defeat Vladimir Putin, Ukraine minister says

Ukraine has used Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat drones against Russian forces.

Petras Malukas/Getty Images

  • Ukraine’s vice-prime minister and digital transformation minister said his forces still need drones.
  • Mykhailo Fedorov told Insider the Ukraine military knew how to use unmanned aircraft effectively.
  • Experts have said Ukraine’s drones were becoming increasingly ineffective against Russia.

Ukraine still needed all types of drones to help defeat Vladimir Putin, its vice-prime minister said.

In an interview with Insider, Mykhailo Fedorov said that while Ukraine appreciated help from Western countries in the form of financial support and sanctions on Russia and its elite, its forces were in dire need of weapons and drones in particular. 

“The Russians are strong in the information space, but we have quite a competent system defending against that. But if we’re talking about war, what we need is heavy weapons – that’s critical,” he said.

Ukraine is working to modernize its armed forces with all kinds of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Fedorov said: “It could be strike UAVs, intelligence reconnaissance and target acquisition, logistics – everything related to unmanned vehicles, aerials and otherwise, big and small.”

He added: “Bottom line: we need lots of drones, all kinds of drones.”

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy launched a fundraising plaftorm called UNITED24 on May 29 that has now collected donations worth more than $75 million. It is also raising funds to create a drone “army”, Fedorov said. 

The Ukrainian minister’s call for more drones comes as experts say the weapons are becoming increasingly ineffective as Russia has improved its defense systems following the humiliation in the first months after the invasion.

Russian forces are using early warning radar to identify the drones and electronic warfare systems to jam and disrupt their communication, Samuel Bendett, an analyst and expert in unmanned and robotic military systems, told Insider.

Recent footage from the Russian defense ministry appeared to show a Krasukha-S4 electronic warfare system in action, taking out a Ukrainian drone.

Mykhailo Fedorov stands in front of a Ukrainian flag.Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice-prime minister.

AP

Fedorov also underlined the support systems required to operate drones: “We have a pretty good understanding of our needs and of the logistic components – how long, who, and how many people will need to be trained.”

The Biden administration planned to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles to Ukraine in early June. The drones would allow Ukrainian troops to conduct longer missions as they can fly for at least 30 hours and can gather huge amounts of data for intelligence purposes.

In the early months of the war, Fedorov urged Elon Musk to provide Starlink systems to Ukraine. The billionaire was quick to respond and in a matter of hours said the systems were active and more terminals were on the way.

Fedorov said there was still a need for Starlink systems: “The ongoing threat and damage to our communication infrastructures means we use Starlink to cover our blind spots.”


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