UK to supply Ukraine with more than 10,000 drones to aid war effort

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps made announcement as he met President Zelenskyy in Kyiv

The UK is providing Ukraine with more than 10,000 extra drones. AP
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Britain is to supply Ukraine with more than 10,000 drones to aid its war effort.

The £125 million of investment was announced on Thursday by the UK's Defence Secretary Grant Shapps as he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv during his third visit to the country.

It comes just a day after a Russian missile struck close to Mr Zelenskyy and the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis while they were visiting the port city of Odesa on Wednesday.

Last month the UK announced it would co-lead an international coalition to supply drones to Ukraine, alongside Latvia.

The latest investment brings the UK's procurement programme of drones for Ukraine to £325 million.

The funding will deliver over 10,000 uncrewed platforms – the majority of which are first-person view (FPV) drones, 1000 one-way attack drones, which have been researched and developed in the UK, as well as surveillance and maritime drones.

“I am ramping up our commitment to arm Ukraine with cutting-edge new drones coming directly from the UK’s world-leading defence industries – straight from the factory floor to the front line. I encourage international partners to join the UK in this effort," Mr Shapps said.

“Ukraine’s Armed Forces are using UK-donated weapons to unprecedented effect, to help lay waste to nearly 30 per cent of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

“On my third visit to this great country, I was pleased to be able to offer my firm reassurance to President Zelenskyy on the UK’s unwavering commitment to the brave people and military forces of Ukraine.”

Ukraine's forces have used different types of drones to great effect in their war effort to destroy and damage thousands of pieces of Russian equipment and vehicles with much cheaper systems.

Highly manoeuverable FPV drones, which allow the operator the ability to finely control the movements of the drone in real time, have been successfully used to bypass Russian air defences and hit their targets.

Since Russia's invasion, the drones have proved effective in helping Ukraine's forces to target enemy positions, armoured vehicles and Russia’s navy.

Following a meeting of the US-led Ukraine Defence Contact Group last month, which convenes more than 50 countries in providing military support to Ukraine, Mr Shapps announced that the UK would co-lead an international capability coalition with Latvia to bolster Ukraine’s drone capabilities.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary David Cameron have both emphasised the importance of championing international support for Ukraine, and last month Mr Shapps called on Nato Allies to commit even further during a meeting of the alliance’s ministers.

Since the war began two years ago, the UK has committed more than £7 billion of military support to help Ukraine defend itself.

Last month Mr Zelenskyy revealed 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the war and that plans for last summer's failed counteroffensive had been leaked to Russia.

Mr Zelenskyy said his country's victory depends on support from the West and expressed hope that the US would approve a package of military aid.

Updated: March 07, 2024, 6:00 PM