Ukraine Building 'Army of Drones' Though Donations to Monitor Front Line

Ukraine is building an "Army of Drones" to monitor the front lines of its ongoing war against Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's global donation initiative United24 announced the "Army of Drones" project last week alongside the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the country's Ministry of Digital Transformation. The project calls for international donors to provide funds that the Ukrainian military will use to purchase drones, as well as direct "dronations" of unmanned aerial vehicles.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation and Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said that around 200 million Ukrainian hryvnia—more than $6.7 million—had already been donated to the project, alongside "dozens" of donated drones. He said that the Ukrainian army had also purchased at least two unmanned "Warmate" systems, drones that can be equipped with high explosives for kamikaze-style attacks.

"First batch of your drones has arrived to the frontline," Fedorov added in a tweet on Thursday. "Now they will serve as real soldiers within world's first Army of Drones. Every such 'dronation' saves lives and getting Ukrainian victory closer."

Justin Bronk of the U.K.'s Royal United Services Institute told the BBC that both Russia and Ukraine were using drones to "very rapidly exploit" real-time images during the war, although countermeasures that limit the usefulness of the vehicles were also becoming more effective.

Ukraine hopes to purchase "200 tactical unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles" that will "constantly monitor the front line and identify the aggressor's positions" as part of the "Army of Drones" project. Donations will also be used to fund maintenance and pilot training.

In addition to the military-grade drones being purchased, the Ukrainian military is accepting "dronations" of commercial drones at warehouses located in the U.S. and Poland. The project is seeking "thousands" of the "simpler drones" for the war effort.

"It doesn't matter if your drone is new or old, it just has to be in working order," reads a a call for donations posted to the United24 website, which also specifies that the project is seeking quadcopter drones that meet minimum required parameters.

Ukraine War Russia Army of Drones Dronations
Ukraine is seeking "dronations" to help it build an "Army of Drones" amid its war with Russia. A swarm of unrelated drones is pictured in this undated file photo. MikeMareen/Getty

"Every drone saves lives and brings our victory closer," Fedorov says in a video shared on the site. "We will buy the drone ourselves, or give us yours—dronate it! This is a war of technology."

"Our IT Army dominates on the cyber frontline against Russia every day, and this Army of Drones will accelerate our victory on the real battlefield," he continued.

Ukraine is not alone is using commercial drones for military purposes. Fedorov told the BBC that Russia was also "using hobby/commercial drones to strike and conduct reconnaissance in their unprovoked and unfair war."

Newsweek reached out to Russian government and United24 for comment.