The SkyRanger R70 UAVs will help Kiev on the battlefield, Defense Minister Bill Blair said Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair makes an announcement regarding additional SkyRanger R70 drone support to Ukraine in Toronto on February 19. © Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press / AP

Canada will donate more than 800 SkyRanger R70 drones to Ukraine, Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair announced on Monday. Kiev has relied heavily on commercial and military UAVs during its conflict with Russia, which will enter its third year on February 24.

“These drones are going to help Ukraine’s front line troops assess targets and threats quickly with accuracy and effectiveness,” Blair stated at a press conference in Toronto.

The R70s can be used for reconnaissance missions and are capable of carrying payloads of up to 3.5 kilograms.

The UAVs are a part of the $370 million aid package pledged to Kiev by the Canadian government in June 2023. Overall, Ottawa has provided $1.78 billion worth of assistance since February 2022, including tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery.

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On February 6, Ukraine created a separate military branch – the Unmanned Systems Forces – tasked with operating ground, aerial and seaborne drones.

Ukraine’s former commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhny, wrote an op-ed for CNN this month, where he highlighted the crucial role of UAVs. Drones “provide the best way for Ukraine to avoid being drawn into a positional war, where we do not possess the advantage,” the general stressed.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that foreign military aid will lead to further escalation but will ultimately not change the course of the conflict.

Last week, Russia captured Avdeevka, a fortified town near Donetsk that was held by Ukraine since 2014. The seizure of the town was Moscow’s most significant victory since December 2023, when Russian troops captured another Donbass stronghold – Maryinka – after months of fierce fighting. (RT)