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Russia-Ukraine war: Turkey's Baykar gifts drones to Kyiv after crowdfunding campaign

Baykar said it would not accept payment for the three TB2s and asked that the funds be given 'to the struggling people of Ukraine'
The TB2 drone has been hugely popular in Ukraine, where it has helped destroy Russian artillery systems and armoured vehicles (AFP)

Turkish defence firm Baykar said on Monday it would donate three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Ukraine, after a crowdfunding campaign there raised enough funds to buy "several" of the Bayraktar TB2 model.

The TB2 drone has been hugely popular in Ukraine, where it has helped destroy Russian artillery systems and armoured vehicles. 

It even became the subject of a patriotic expletive-strewn hit song in Ukraine that mocked Russian troops, with the chorus "Bayraktar, Bayraktar".

Baykar said the crowdfunding campaign in Ukraine had reached the milestone in a few days and that business leaders as well ordinary people contributed to the fund.

"Baykar will not accept payment for the TB2s, and will send three UAVs free of charge to the Ukrainian war front," the company said in a statement.

"We ask that raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine," it said.

Ukraine said it had around 20 TB2 drones at the start of the war.

Moscow angered

Russia has previously complained to Turkey over its sale of the drones to Ukraine, a high- level Turkish bureaucrat told Reuters, but added that the sales by Baykar, a private company, were not state-to-state deals.

One of Baykar's directors is Selcuk Bayraktar, the husband of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's youngest daughter. The company's other director is Bayraktar's brother, Haluk.

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Turkey has forged close ties with Russia in energy, defence and trade, and relies heavily on Russian tourists. 

Baykar had sold the drones to Kyiv despite Russian objections and signed a deal to co-produce more before the invasion, angering Moscow.

The TB2, which has also been used in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, now spearheads Turkey's global defence export push.

Lithuania's defence ministry said earlier this month that Turkey's Defence Industry Agency would donate a TB2 to Lithuania for transfer to Ukraine after Lithuanians crowdfunded nearly six million euros to buy it.