Ten thousand drones for Ukraine: Czech NGO pledges to raise millions to help Ukraine’s military

Karel Řehka and Ondřej Vetchý

Drones have become a weapon of key importance in the war in Ukraine. Russia has clearly understood this and is reportedly ramping up its wartime production by converting prisons and schools into drone factories. In order to help the Ukrainian army keep up, a new Czech NGO is trying to raise money to deliver 10,000 drones to the country.

Although many charitable organisations to support Ukraine exist in Czechia already, according to Chief of the Army General Staff Karel Řehka, who is the patron and honorary chairman of the new NGO Skupina D (Group D), this one is unique in that it knows precisely what the Ukrainian army needs and can respond accordingly.

Karel Řehka | Photo: René Volfík,  iROZHLAS.cz

"Because the organisation has ties to people in the army and active reserves, it is able to judge what can really have a strategic impact. This means that when we get public resources to support Ukraine, those resources can be directed to where they will have a real impact and be used for what is currently needed on the battlefield."

Set up by investor and member of the army's active reserves Jan Veverka along with actor Ondřej Vetchý and security expert Milan Mikulecký, the group is launching a public fundraiser called Nemesis in the coming days, which aims to raise one hundred million crowns with which to purchase the drones – specifically, FPV or first-person view drones. These are drones containing a camera that wirelessly transmits everything it "sees" to its operator in real time, meaning the user has a first-person view of the environment where the drone is flying. The drones can capture both video and still images.

The Ukrainian drone | Photo: Martin Dorazín,  Czech Radio

Although many people affiliated with the army are involved in the project, it is not an official Czech Army initiative. Rather, it is a civil society initiative in cooperation with the army, in which soldiers, members of the army's active reserves, and people from the non-profit sector have joined forces. The non-profit organization Post Bellum, which has already delivered aid worth half a billion crowns to Ukraine since the war started, is also participating.

Post Bellum founder Martin Kroupa says that it was necessary to set up the organisation to keep up with developments on the ground.

"The situation in Ukraine is becoming more and more complicated, and the Czech Republic has a lot of options to help much more than it currently does. The initiative came from people who have been working on these issues for a long time. We are there as a civil society group, to coordinate and mediate contact with the public and other sectors."

According to Řehka, the formation of Group D is also beneficial for the Czech army, because, similar to the training of Ukrainian soldiers in the Czech Republic, it will also be able to gain knowledge from the Ukrainian battlefield.

"Our Ukrainian partners are willing to share their experience with us, organise professional seminars and provide us with invaluable information. Nobody just gives you that. And if you give someone several thousand drones, that also has an effect."

The NGO’s name, Group D, refers to the World War II Czechoslovak government-in-exile's secret service Special Group D, which organised the training program for Czechoslovak paratroopers in Great Britain for Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

Authors: Anna Fodor , Kateřina Gruntová | Source: iROZHLAS.cz
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