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Russia-Ukraine war: Moscow says it 'downed Bayraktar TB2 drone'

Russia provides pictures of a destroyed Turkish TB2 drone for the first time
One of the downed Bayraktar drones of Ukrainian Armed Forces in Kyiv region, according to Russian Defence Ministry (Twitter)

Russia says it has downed a Turkish-made TB2 Bayraktar drone in Ukraine, in what could be the first such incident since the start of its invasion.

The Russian defence ministry tweeted pictures on Thursday of what appeared to be a destroyed TB2 drone, writing: "One of the downed Bayraktar drones of Ukrainian Armed Forces in Kiev region."

The caption suggests Russia has shot others down, but this is the first time it has provided photographs.

One of the pictures showed Turkish writing on the drone. Clash Report, a Twitter account that has released a lot of TB2 footage in Ukraine and elsewhere for the first time and appears to be linked to Baykar, posted saying the photos confirmed the loss of the drone.

The lack of evidence of fire at the crash site could suggest the drone may have just crashed, though.

Turkey is believed to have sold more than 20 TB2s to Kyiv before the war began. Some experts believe the number of TB2s in the Ukrainian arsenal could be even higher. 

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said last week that Ukraine’s Turkish-supplied TB2 combat drones were helping to block the Russian advance.

Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Turkish officials believed the drones could be effective against the Russian military. They pointed to the TB2s' record of destroying various Russian-made weapons in Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Libya - in particular, the Pantsir air defence system, which has been mocked for its failure to take down Turkish drones.  

Russia-Ukraine war: Turkey's Bayraktar TB2 drones proving effective against Russian forces
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Ukraine and Turkey have close defence industry cooperation, a relationship that has flourished in recent years.

The TB2's producer Baykar, which has close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s family, was building a plant in Ukraine before the war.

But Turkey has been reluctant to appear as if it is directly arming Ukraine, in case it angers Russia.

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran stressed in early March that Kyiv purchased the drones from Baykar, a private Turkish defence company, saying this did not represent an agreement between the two nations.

Turkey shares a maritime border with Russia and Ukraine and has good ties with both. It has criticised the invasion as unacceptable, but has avoided the harsher rhetoric of other Nato members and opposes their use of sanctions.

TB2s have appeared to play decisive roles in recent years in conflicts in LibyaSyria and Nagorno-Karabakh, many experts have questioned how effective they would truly be against a serious military power.

But footage released by the Ukrainian military following Russia's invasion showed the TB2s inflicting damage against Russian military columns near Kyiv.