Ukraine is crowdfunding a new fleet of drone boats to take on the Russian navy, and for just $250,000, it'll let people name one

Ukraine is crowdfunding a new fleet of drone boats to take on the Russian navy, and for just $250,000, it'll let people name one
Ukraine says it aims to assemble a fleet of 100 naval drones.Screenshot/United24
  • Ukraine has launched a crowdfunding appeal for a fleet of naval drones.
  • The effort comes after Ukraine used the drones to strike Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine is appealing for donors around the world to help it build a fleet of naval drones, offering those who give $250,000 or more the right to name one of the unmanned vessels.

"I think absolutely everyone understands what this is and what it is needed for," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video announcing the effort. "Everyone has already seen how it works."

Last month, a swarm of Ukrainian naval and aerial drones attacked Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, a port city in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014. Experts told Insider at the time that the attack, which Ukraine had not yet claimed, would impose a costly tax on Russian forces, requiring Moscow to invest more money and manpower defending its navy.

The Ukrainian-developed vessels are believed to be powered by engines meant for jet skis. Oleksiy Neizhpapa, commander of the Ukrainian Navy, claimed Friday that they can also do more than just pester ships at port.

"They can participate in long-range maritime reconnaissance and coastal surveillance, escorting and supporting the traditional fleet, convoying merchant ships, zoning in artillery fire, defending our bases and countering amphibious operations," Neizhpapa said in a statement. "Such naval drones have already proven their effectiveness, and can change the situation in the Black Sea significantly."


The appeal for donations is taking place on United24, the Ukrainian government's official fundraising platform. Ukrainian forces have previously used crowdfunding to raise money for their fight against Russia, at one point allowing people to write messages on munitions and even name a tank in exchange for donations.

Mykhalio Fedorov, the deputy prime minister of Ukraine, argued that the naval drones are a cost-effective means of altering the balance of power in the Black Sea after Ukraine lost most of its navy when Russia annexed Crimea. Kyiv hopes to build a fleet of 100 such vessels.

"Small and fast, they are capable of successfully attacking Russian ships worth hundreds of millions of dollars, fulfilling their key objective — to force these ships to stay at the bay because of the fear of being hit," he said.

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