A Ukrainian TV host crowdfunded $20 million to buy Bayraktar drones. The company making them refused the money and said it'd donate the aircraft instead.

·2-min read
Bayraktar TB2 drone
The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone has been a key instrument used by the Ukrainian military to repel Russian forces.Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • A Ukrainian crowdfunder raised $20 million for the powerful Bayraktar TB2 drones.

  • The manufacturer said it refused the money and would 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 turned down $20 million in crowdfunded cash to buy its drones for Ukraine and would 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, the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform reported.

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

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

Its famed Bayraktar TB2 drones — known popularly 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.

A collage of four screenshots from what Ukrainian forces say is the viewfinder of Bayraktar TB2 drones targeting Russian-controlled assets
Ukrainian forces say their Bayraktar drones scored against multiple Russian targets, presenting these videos as evidence.Commander-in-chief of Ukraine Armed Forces/Facebook/Insider

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

Baykar's Monday statement, referring to Ukrainians, said it was "touched by their solidarity and resolve in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges." It added, "Baykar prays for a just resolution and lasting peace."

Euractiv reported that Selçuk Bayraktar, one of Baykar's codirectors, 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 said 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 Mikhail Podolyak, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, posed with another Baykar codirector, Selçuk Bayraktar's brother Haluk Bayraktar.

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

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