The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone has been a key instrument used by the Ukrainian military to repel Russian forces.

A Ukrainian crowdfunder raised $20 million for the powerful Bayraktar TB2 drones.
The manufacturer said it turned down the money and will donate three military drones for free instead.
“We ask that the funds instead be remitted to the struggling people of Ukraine,” Baykar said. 

The Turkish defense manufacturer Baykar said it had turned down $20 million in crowdfunded cash to buy its drones for Ukraine and will donate three military drones to the country instead.

Baykar wrote in a Monday statement that it had learned about a campaign to raise funds to buy its Bayraktar TB2 drones, adding: “Baykar will not accept payment for the TB2s, and will send 3 UAVs free of charge to the Ukrainian war front.”

UAVs — unmanned aerial vehicles — are more commonly known as drones. 

“We ask that the funds instead be remitted to the struggling people of Ukraine,” Baykar said.

The money was raised through a campaign led by the Ukrainian TV personality Serhiy Prytula, according to the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.

Prytula celebrated reaching the target figure in a June 24 tweet, saying it took just three days. The original plan appears to have been to obtain four of the drones.

Baykar manufactures four types of drones, and it is unclear which model it intends to send to Ukraine. 

Its famed Bayraktar TB2 drones — known popularly just as “Bayraktars” — have almost mythical status in Ukraine. The ongoing war against Russia is the first major conflict in which the Bayraktar drones have been deployed.

Ukrainian forces say their Bayraktar drones scored against multiple Russian targets, presenting these videos as evidence.

Their ability to precisely target slow-moving Russian tank columns was a boost in Ukraine’s early-stage defense, and even inspired a viral folk song

Baykar’s Monday statement said it was “touched by [Ukrainians’] solidarity and resolve in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges,” adding: “Baykar prays for a just resolution and lasting peace.”

According to Ukrinform, one of Baykar’s co-directors, Selcuk Bayraktar, is related to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan through marriage to his daughter. 

Russia has previously objected to Baykar’s sale of the drones to Ukraine, but Turkish officials noted that Baykar is a private company and that these are not state-to-state deals, Reuters reported

Turkey hosted peace talks between Russia and Ukraine in late March, where an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Mikhail Podolyak, posed with another Baykar co-director, Selcuk’s brother Haluk Bayraktar

Turkey has ruled out imposing sanctions on Russia, creating favorable conditions for fleeing oligarchs and their super-yachts, several of which have been spotted in Turkish waters.  

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