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The crowdfunding appeal on the People's Project hit its $35,000 target

Ukrainians crowdfund their own border surveillance drones

Watch the skies, Russia – the ‘people's drone’ is watching out for you

With the Ukraine army fighting pro-Russian forces in the east, a group of Ukrainians have responded to the military's pleas for help with a novel solution: the People's Project, a crowdfunding website that has just successfully funded Ukraine's first fleet of camera-equipped drones

The funding appeal raised approximately $36,000 from almost a thousand supporters and will help build an initial squad of ten UAVs known as "the people's drones". The drone unit will provide aerial surveillance and patrol the country’s border with Russia. 

The Ukrainian military has an annual budget of $1.9 billion, while Russia is spending about $70 billion on its own army. With resources depleted by the crisis in Crimea, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has appealed for civilians to dig deep and donate to help arm and train soldiers to defend the country against the pro-Russian separatists in the east. So far, the People's Project has supplied the army with communication gear and raised money to equip a paratrooper battalion.

While it's an impressive start to the crowdfunding campaign, Ukraine will need hundreds of drones rather than just ten - the UAVs currently do not meet military specifications and can only stay in the air for an hour. But as the People's Project put it, it's better than nothing. "It's imperfect," their website reads. "In many ways. But Ukrainian engineers do not have the time or technologies to build a better drone quickly and this craft will be fighting right away." Watch the skies, Russia.