Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has said the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 armed drones that were received by Ukraine after the start of the Russian invasion of the country were bought by Kyiv from a private company and not received as assistance from Turkey, local media reported on Friday, citing Russia’s RIA news agency.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran said in a statement on Thursday that Turkey had not sent Bayraktar TB2 combat drones to Ukraine as assistance but that Kyiv purchased them from a private company.
“Bayraktar is the product of a private company. Ukraine wanted to buy this product from a company of ours, and an agreement was made between them. They provided this product [to Ukraine]. That’s how it is all over the world. …This [procurement of combat drones] isn’t assistance from Turkey but are the products that Ukraine purchased from a Turkish company. Of course, we are proud of these products,” RIA quoted Kıran as saying.
Ankara had to make such a statement “to calm Moscow” after reports that Turkish-made combat drones were sent to Ukraine after Russia launched a military operation in the country on Feb. 24, Turkish media reports said.
Ukraine and Turkey have developed close defense industry ties, a relationship that has flourished in recent years.
Ukrainian companies also produce the engines for the Bayraktar TB2 drones, manufactured by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law, Selçuk Bayraktar.
Turkey has sold over 20 of them to Kyiv over the course of two years. Some experts believe the number of TB2s in the Ukrainian arsenal could be even higher.
In early February, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine and Turkey had signed an agreement expanding production of Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicles in the country.
The TB2s, which have a proven track record against several adversaries in conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh, have also been deployed by Ukrainian forces against Russian troops in the war that started last week.
According to the Baykar website, the TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle can fly up to 138 miles per hour and can carry four smart munitions, or up to 330 pounds. The drone is about 39 feet long with a wingspan of 21 feet and an operational altitude of 18,000 feet.