Ukraine orders more of Turkey’s effective drones to deter Russia attack
Turkey has sold Ukraine more of its groundbreaking military drones than previously reported as part of Kiev’s attempt to bolster defences along its Russian border.
Turkey’s effective Bayraktar TB2 drones were first used in Ukraine in October to target Russian-backed mobile artillery in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Russia accused Ukraine of destabilising the war zone after the strike.
Ukraine used the Bayraktar drone “for one tidy shot” and the separatists are afraid of using mobile artillery now they know “how this could end”, Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said this week.
The Bayraktar TB2 was seen as the key factor in enabling Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan to crush Armenia’s Russian air-defence weapons in the 44-day war that started in September 2020 over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Turkish drones have also been instrumental in routing Russian allies in Syria and Libya.
On March 1, 2020, Turkish drones attacked Syrian forces at Idlib, killing 19 people, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The strike was part of a wider operation targeting the Syrian regime’s air-defences. Turkish drones have crippled the regime’s Russian-supplied Pantsir air-defence vehicles with online videos showing Turkish drones destroying frozen Pantsirs.
Bloomberg quoted Turkish sources saying that the Istanbul-based arms manufacturer Baykar had sold numerous drones, control stations and missiles to Ukraine since 2019 with many more orders in the pipeline.
There was no official Turkish comment.
Turkish drones are much larger, faster and more heavily armed than commercial models and orders are rising from around the globe.
Russia denies it plans to attack Ukraine and says it fears further Ukrainian strikes on pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Reznikov said Russia has amassed more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders with a possible large-scale escalation expected in late January.
According to Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday about Ukraine’s “provocative” use of drones.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has met Erdogan at least five times since the former comedian’s election in 2019, more than any other foreign leader.
The leaders have established formal channels of communication between their foreign and defence ministers and Turkey joined Ukraine’s new Crimea Platform, which aims to expel Russia from the Black Sea peninsula it seized in 2014.
Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drone is associated with several military victories. Picture credit: Wikimedia