Ukraine expects boom in drone production, defence minister says

NATO leaders summit in Vilnius

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine intends to increase drone production as early as this autumn, the Ukrainian defence minister was quoted as saying on Sunday, as the country conducts more frequent drone attacks on Russian territory.

Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory have picked up in recent weeks, with dozens of drones striking Russia at once on some days, reaching as far as the western city of Pskov, 400 miles (600 km) from Ukraine.

Kyiv has used both aerial drones to attack airfields and aquatic drones to attack ships and the bridge to Crimea.

"I think this autumn there will be a boom in the production of various Ukrainian drones: flying, floating, crawling, etc., and this will continue to grow in volume," Oleksii Reznikov told the state-run Ukrinform news agency.

He said one reason for the growth of production was that authorities had reduced various regulations and laws.

"So we rewrote regulations... and simplified the processes. And I believe that we also succeeded in that and gave us the opportunity for such a booster. Especially for drone manufacturers who started production from garages," he said.

Ukraine is significantly dependent on supplies of modern Western weapons, but Kyiv has pledged not to use them on Russian territory and for such attacks it uses only domestically produced weapons, primarily drones.

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Friday it had destroyed a total of 281 Ukrainian drones over the past week, including 29 over the western regions of Russia, indicating the scale of the drone war now under way between Russia and Ukraine.

Ukraine has attacked several airfields deep inside Russia, the centre of Moscow and military bases both in occupied Crimea and in regions close to the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian officials normally say little or nothing about attacks on Russian targets, but say that destroying Russian infrastructure is vital for the country's war effort.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Frances Kerry)