Turkey to expand supply of armed drones to Ukraine

Ukraine and Turkey have signed an agreement to expand the joint production of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.  The deal could upset Turkey’s delicate alliance with Russia. It remains  to be seen whether the risky arms deal is an effort by Ankara to appease NATO, which, too, had been upset about the member because of her tight relationship with Russia.


“Today we’ve paid special attention to cooperation in the aviation and defense industries. This is one of the locomotives of our strategic partnership. Our goal is the implementation of specific projects to create joint ventures, exchange of experience, exchange of technologies. An agreement has been signed today that will expand the production of unmanned aerial vehicles,” Zelensky said at a joint briefing with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Kyiv.


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As reported, Oleksiy Arestovych, the speaker of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on resolving the situation in Donbas, in December 2021 announced that the Ukrainian-Turkish plant, which is being built in the town of Vasylkiv, Kyiv region, will produce reactive heavy drones of the ANKA type – the next generation of drones after Bayraktar, as well as promising Ukrainian drones.


“In particular, we can talk about jet drones, which are interceptors. That is, they are capable of operating against air targets, against other drones. Even against manned aircraft. They will have Ukrainian engines and the rest of Turkish avionics: a hull, etc.,” he said, according to Interfax Ukraine.


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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey agreed on Thursday to expand supplies of one of the Ukrainian Army’s most sophisticated weapons, a long-range, Turkish-made armed drone whose use in combat for the first time in Ukraine last fall infuriated Russian officials.


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Mr. Erdogan’s decision to provide weapons and diplomatically back Ukraine was a public rebuke to Moscow and another complicating factor in the mix of cooperation and conflict between Turkey and Russia, historical rivals for supremacy in the region around the Black Sea.


The promise of more arms for Ukraine, especially an offensive weapon like the Turkish drone, is an extremely sensitive issue for Moscow, which claims that its security is threatened and that it has no choice but to mass troops on the Ukrainian border. The Ukrainians, while welcoming diplomatic support, have said that what they primarily need are more weapons to deter any attack.


Turkey is a member of NATO but also maintains economic and military industry ties with Russia. And the two countries are also on opposing sides in two Middle Eastern wars, in Syria and Libya, and in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the South Caucasus region.


In December, Mr. Putin protested the drone sales directly in a telephone call with Mr. Erdogan, saying the Ukrainians’ use of Turkish armed drones was “destructive” and “provocative activity,” according to a Kremlin readout of the call.

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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.