Ukraine’s Defense Ministry asks drone owners to help repel invading Russian troops

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Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has called upon citizens who own drones to use them in support of the country’s armed forces in their battle to prevent the invading Russian Army from capturing the capital, Kyiv.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry made the appeal in a Facebook post as the Russian military entered Kyiv and battered other cities around the country. Throughout Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to repel the invading forces and urged people to help in the defense of their cities and nation. In the same spirit, owners of consumer drones in the capital were called upon to use their craft in the fight against advancing Russians or hand them over to Ukraine troops who could.

“Do you own a drone? Give it to experienced pilots to use!” the post read, according to a translation in a Gizmodo report. “Do you know how to (fly) a drone? Join the joint patrol with units 112 of the separate brigade of the city of Kyiv!

“Kyiv is our home, defending it is a common task #STOPRUSSIA,” it continued. “You and your drone need Kyiv in this fierce moment!”

Media reports early Saturday said Kyiv was still largely holding off Russian efforts to take it amid explosions and gunfire from street battles throughout the night. By mid-morning, Zelensky had tweeted a video of himself walking in the city and extolling Ukrainians to defend the country. 

A short time after that, after talks with various European Union leaders, Zelensky tweeted “Ukraine is fighting the invader with weapons in hands, defending its freedom and European future.” 

Those were among a series of messages seeking to debunk allegations he had fled the country, and urging Ukrainians not to lose heart, or even join in the fight.

The Ministry of Defense’s appeal for people to donate their drones or fly them in support of Ukrainian troops presumably seeks the craft for surveillance purposes of fairly close Russian positions. 

Though battery life would limit most sorties to around 30 minutes, continuing electrical supplies would permit relatively easy recharging. How long that will last is a question, however, with Russian forces already fighting to take control of one of Kyiv’s main generators.

It’s also feasible donated consumer drones could be reconfigured for weaponized use against Russian soldiers around Ukraine’s capital. Improvised systems to drop munitions on rival gang members are being increasingly used by Mexican drug cartels, as well as insurgent groups around the world. Store-bought UAVs have similarly been flown in fighting in separatist areas of eastern Ukraine.

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