UK announces drones shipment to Ukraine
The UK will provide Ukraine with underwater drones which are to be used by Kiev for sweeping mines as the nation remains locked in conflict with Russia, the Ministry of Defence revealed on Saturday.
In total, six underwater unmanned vehicles will be delivered, while the UK is also set to provide relevant training to Ukrainian service members on British soil, the statement read. The ministry went on to say that three drones will be provided from UK stocks, with another three to be procured from the defense industry.
The vehicles are designed to be operated “in shallow coastal environments” at a depth of up to 100 meters, the ministry indicated, adding that drones are supposed to identify mines, allowing the Ukrainian Navy to then take them out.
According to the statement, the UK and the US will train dozens of Ukrainian Navy personnel to use the drones over the coming months, with the first group having already embarked on exercises.
The mine sweeping activities have gained urgency after Russia and Ukraine inked a UN- and Turkey-brokered deal in late July which has unblocked grain exports in the Black Sea and aims to maintain safe transit routes. In this vein, the UK Ministry of Defence argued that “efforts to get food out of the country continue to be hampered by sea mines left by Russian forces along Ukraine’s coast.”
Wheat deliveries from Ukraine, a major producer, were disrupted after Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring state in late February. Each side has leveled blame against the other for the disruption of shipments.
The Ukrainian service members that will train to operate drones will apparently join their colleagues on UK soil. In late July, the Royal Navy said that it was training 80 Ukrainian sailors to operate machinery on vessels while making sure they learn weapon drills and damage control. At the time, the navy also announced that it would sell Kiev two soon-to-be-retired Sandown-class minehunters.