Netherlands joins coalition to supply Ukraine with advanced drones

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The Netherlands is joining a military coalition with allies including Britain that will supply Ukraine with advanced drone technology and bolster its offensive capabilities in the war against Russia, the Dutch defense minister said.

The pledge from the Netherlands comes in addition to F-16 fighter jets, artillery, ammunition and air defense systems provided by the Dutch to Kyiv.

For the Netherlands, there may be additional costs on top of 2 billion euros earmarked already for 2024, Dutch Defense Minister Kasja Ollongren told Reuters in an interview ahead of two days of NATO defense minister meetings in Brussels starting on Wednesday.

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“We know of course that drones are very important in this war,” Ollongren said. “That's why we are joining the drone coalition that Ukraine has started together with Latvia, together with other countries, to make sure that we do just that - increase production, use the latest technology and to provide exactly what Ukraine needs.”

Ukraine's Defense Ministry announced Britain's participation last month.

Drones have become a crucial part of both Ukraine and Russia's wartime strategies for reconnaissance and striking targets, thanks in large part to their relatively low cost.

Both sides are now using thousands of small, inexpensive drones originally built for enthusiasts and racers to conduct battlefield-level surveillance and attacks, while also growing their fleets of larger, longer-distance unmanned craft which can fly much further and carry heavier cameras or more explosives.

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Both Britain and the Netherlands had already been helping Ukraine build out its drone fleet.

“What is new is that we are now forming this coalition. So we're connecting, let's say, the things that we're doing separately into one coalition that will be able to respond to the new demands of Ukraine, as they see the battle developing on the frontline. And I think that's the strength of this coalition,” she said at her offices in The Hague.

Ukraine intends to manufacture thousands of long-range drones capable of deep strikes into Russia in 2024 and already has up to 10 companies working on production, Ukraine's digital minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, said in a Reuters interview on Monday.

By working together, the coalition will be able to respond to Kyiv's changing wartime tactics.

“And I think that's going to be the strength of this coalition, to be able to provide in the very short term what they need,” she said.

Ollongren said the Netherlands will contribute high-tech expertise from the commercial sector, but declined to provide technical or financial details.

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