Ukraine sought Turkish weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars from EU
Ukrainian media last week published a 14-page document dated 11 March addressed to the European Union's diplomatic service and director-general of the EU Military Staff, listing the urgent weapons Kyiv requires. The document was prepared by Iryna Yefremova, deputy head of the Ukrainian mission to the EU.
Two sources familiar with the issue told Middle East Eye that the list is likely to be genuine and was prepared in the first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Even though the list is now two months old, its contents show how Kyiv demanded billions of dollars worth of Turkish weaponary from Brussels.
The EU imposed several sanctions against Turkey until this year due to Ankara's assault on the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which is both a western ally against the Islamic State group and linked closely to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is viewed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the US.
'It looks like Ukraine had plans to create a layered air defence umbrella as it was seeking to stage armed drone offensives against the Russian targets'
- Yusuf Akbaba, Turkish defence industry insider
The weapons on the list are split into two levels of urgency.
In the first list of urgent requests, dubbed as "first priority list of military equipment," Ukraine sought multiple Turkish air defence systems, such as eight units of the self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Korkut and 80,000 rounds of ammunition for it.
It also included advanced air defence systems, including eight HISAR-O medium-range surface-to-air missile batteries and 720 HISAR-O missiles.
Ukraine also requested three Bayraktar TB2 drones, five Bayraktar drone mobile terrestrial data transmission terminals, four Bayraktar drone vehicle-mounted ground control stations, and five Bayraktar drone portable ground control stations.
Ukraine had at least 20 Bayraktar TB2s when the war broke out but still sought more supplies. Some experts believe Ankara has delivered six to 12 more drones to Kyiv since Russia invaded on 24 February. Ukraine's demands also included munitions used by the Bayraktars, including 500 MAM-S multifunctional missiles and 500 MAM-L missiles.
Yusuf Akbaba, a Turkish defence industry insider, told Middle East Eye that Turkey was capable of delivering the requested systems and equipment, but there are some caveats.
"Some of the demands are not realistic, such as 720 HISAR-O missiles, since even the Turkish military's inventory doesn't have that amount of munitions," he said.
Kyiv's secondary priority list laid out more Turkish defence equipment requests, some of which are sensitive, such as six units of the MILKAR-3A3 V/UHF jamming system and 14 units of the MILKAR-4A2 HF jamming system.
Turkish jamming systems, combined with armed drones, have proved effective against Russian weaponry in Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Libya. This is why Ukraine also sought 10 Bayraktar Electronic Warfare pods from the EU.
The list also included five units of Turkey's lesser-known but effective Anka-S combat drone.
Akbaba said the Ukraine weapons requests would cost easily hundreds of millions of dollars. Eight units of the HISAR air defence system and its missiles alone would cost over $1bn.
Akbaba added that some of the systems, such as the electronic jammers, were sensitive technology and Turkey wasn't likely to supply them.
"It looks like Ukraine had plans to create a layered air defence umbrella as it was seeking to stage armed drone offensives against the Russian targets backed with the electronic warfare capabilities," he said. "This Turkish concept proved itself in Syria and Karabakh, and could be really effective against the Russians in Donbas."
Any Turkish weapons supplies to Ukraine since the war began have been clandestine, with no official confirmation to this date that arms or ammunition have been delivered.
The sources told MEE said that Ukraine separately submitted a list of weapons requests to Turkey but wouldn't reveal the details or whether Turkey fulfilled them.
Some sources from the Turkish private defence industry also told MEE that they were reluctant to sell equipment to Kyiv due to transactional issues.
'It is hard to get the payments due to war. So everyone wants to be sure about the payments to go ahead with the deliveries'
"It is hard to get the payments due to war," said one of the sources. "So everyone wants to be sure about the payments to go ahead with the deliveries."
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.
Ukrainian companies also produce the engines of the Akinci, Baykar's advanced drone, and Turkey has sold more than 20 Bayraktars to Kyiv over the course of the past two years.
Frequent flights between Turkey and Poland over the past two months suggest that Ankara has continued to deliver TB2s and its MAM-L ammunition to Kyiv.