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15 Feb, 2024 14:47

UK joins ‘drone coalition’ for Ukraine

The planned production of UAVs for Kiev will involve Latvia and several other European nations
UK joins ‘drone coalition’ for Ukraine

Britain has joined other west European nations in an attempt to give Ukraine one million drones to fight Russia, the Defense Ministry in London announced on Thursday.

The UK will be co-leaders of the initiative with Latvia, having already pledged to allocate £200 million ($250 million) to UAVs for Kiev. 

The funding will help to “scale up and streamline the West’s provision of ‘first person view’ (FPV) drones,” a statement from the ministry said, adding that it aims to ensure competition among manufacturers.

The Latvian Defense Ministry has also announced it will assist Ukraine “both with technology and helping to develop skills.” Other members of the so-called ‘drone coalition’ are Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Ukraine itself. The participants signed a letter of intent on providing the arms to Kiev on Wednesday.

Latvia has stated it will spend at least €10 million ($10.7 million) within the next year on UAVs for Ukraine. The UK has not specified how much of its allocated funds will be offered via the coalition.

Earlier on Wednesday, NATO defense ministers met at the military bloc’s headquarters in Brussels to discuss continued assistance to Kiev. Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg insisted he is counting on the US to approve a new international security package, including some $60 billion for Ukraine. 

The US bill was approved by the Senate this week, although House Speaker Mike Johnson has made clear he will oppose its passage in the lower chamber. Johnson has argued that American officials should “take care of our own first,” referring to the security situation at the southern US border.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged last month to provide £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) worth of military assistance to Ukraine over the next financial year. The plan was revealed ahead of his visit to Kiev, during which he and President Vladimir Zelensky signed a bilateral security cooperation agreement.

Moscow has dismissed the deal as “half-baked,” pointing out that its terms offered no security guarantees for Ukraine and instead included a commitment by Kiev to fight for London’s interests.

Russia claims that Western assistance only serves to prolong the Ukraine conflict, but will not change its outcome.