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Russia-Ukraine war: UK says Turkish TB2 drones hitting artillery and supply lines

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says Bayraktar combat drones are helping to slow down Russian advance
The TB2 went into action in the first hours of the Russian invasion (AFP/file photo)

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

In response to a question in parliament over how the Ukrainian air force was being assisted, Wallace said the TB2s were “delivering munitions” onto Russian “artillery and their supply lines”. This was “incredibly important in order to slow down or block the Russian advance”, he said.

Russia-Ukraine war: Turkey's Bayraktar TB2 drones proving effective against Russian forces
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More than 20 TB2s are believed to have been sold to Kyiv before the war began.

Last Wednesday, Ukraine's defence minister said in a Facebook post that the country had received a fresh shipment of the armed drones. “They are ready for combat,” Oleksii Reznikov said, without elaborating. 

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

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran stressed last week 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.

While 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 holding their own against long Russian military columns near Kyiv.