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Ukraine Unveils New Drones Partly Funded by Proceeds From Soledar Salt

Ukrainian officials announced Tuesday that more than 2,200 FPV kamikaze drones will be purchased for combat, thanks to a private fundraising effort.

According to a Telegram post from Mykhailo Fedorov, vice prime minister for innovations, development of education, science and technology, nearly $1.6 million was raised through UNITED24, a private fundraising platform based in Ukraine. The project partnered with the country’s largest salt producer, Artemsil, to sell a limited batch of salt derived from mines in Soledar, an eastern Ukrainian city that was captured by Russian forces in January.

UNITED24 wrote on its website that 100,000 “symbolic packs” of Soledar-mined salt were sold for roughly $13.56 apiece in honor of the one-year anniversary since Russia launched its invasion. Profits from the sales are being sent to the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine for the purchase of kamikaze drones.

Fedorov added in his post that Rozetka, an online marketplace, and Silpo, a Ukrainian supermarket, helped cover the cost of the salt, meaning all profits could go toward financing the drones, “So that all Ukrainian cities are liberated as soon as possible. “

“More than 8 million hryvnias [roughly $216,947] were raised thanks to the drawing of five packs of salt with the autograph of the head of the Intelligence Directorate Kirill Budanov,” Fedorov said. “Thank you to our partners and everyone who joined the gathering. Strong when together.”

Soledar was captured in Russia’s efforts to seize its nearby neighbor, Bakhmut, which Russian President Vladimir Putin and private mercenaries Wagner Group have set its sights on for months.

Drones have played a crucial role for Ukraine and Russia. On Monday, the Security Service of Ukraine posted a video of an FPV drone flying into a Russian vehicle carrying at least three soldiers while driving through a Ukrainian village.

Russia’s stash of Iranian-made drones has allowed the Kremlin to carry out airstrikes throughout Ukraine. Last week, Ukrainian officials said they were able to strike down 16 out of 21 Shahed-136 drones launched by Russia in an overnight assault on several regions, including Kyiv.

According to a report from CNN, Fedorov also announced on Tuesday that three new companies backed by private donations are also ready to release Ukrainian-made drones. The report said that the companies will be equipped with pickup trucks, attack helicopters and Starlink terminals.

“The drones will perform reconnaissance and strike missions,” Fedorov said. “They will be used to guide artillery, help soldiers to be as effective as possible during urban battles and save lives. The pickup trucks will be used for raids by mobile groups into enemy territory, delivery of cargo and evacuation of the wounded.”

Newsweek has reached out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office via email for comment.

Ukrainian officials announced Tuesday that more than 2,200 FPV kamikaze drones will be purchased for combat, thanks to a private fundraising effort.

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