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Latvian-led coalition to arm Ukraine with 'thousands' of drones

by Abbey Fenbert and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 17, 2024 2:31 AM 2 min read
Defense Minister Rustem Umerov and Latvian counterpart Andris Spruds hold a joint press conference in Kyiv on Dec. 12, 2023. (Kaniuka Ruslan / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Latvia is building a coalition of about 20 countries who will work together to bolster Ukraine's arsenal of drones, Bloomberg reported on Jan. 16.

Defense Minister Rustem Umverov said on Jan. 5 that Riga would helm a drone coalition in support of Ukraine's military after talks with his Latvian counterpart Andris Spruds. The officials met in Kyiv in mid-December to discuss strategies for Ukrainian defense.

Spruds said on Jan. 16 that the coalition aims to arm Ukraine with "thousands" of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

"The main goal is to do everything possible to ensure that as many of these drones as possible are also delivered to Ukraine," Spruds said.

Spruds also acknowledged the importance of drone warfare in Ukraine's fight against Russian aggression. President Volodymyr Zelensky promised on Dec. 19 that Ukraine would produce one million drones in 2024.

As Ukraine enters its third year of war amid weapons shortages and uncertainties over Western aid, Russia has intensified drone and missile strikes against civilian targets and critical infrastructure.

Deadly drone arms race intensifies as Ukraine, Russia embrace the future of war
At this stage of a war that could last years more, both Ukraine and Russia are getting serious with their drone game: ramping up production while always looking to come up with new innovations.

Spruds did not say when the first shipments of drones would be delivered to Ukrainian forces.

"So far, we are at the stage when we are approaching 20 partners," he said.

Zelensky visited Riga on Jan. 11 during a tour of the Baltic States. In addition to the drone coalition, Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics pledged a robust military aid package that includes howitzers, ammunition, drones, and anti-tank weapons.

Latvia is a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression. The country has committed over 1% of its gross domestic product to military aid for Kyiv, one of the highest shares among all Ukraine's allies.

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The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American air superiority fighter that Kyiv has begged for since the start of the full-scale invasion and is expected to finally start receiving this year. It’s a versatile workhorse of a jet that’s fought in dozens of wars and is
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