Ukraine to produce Turkish armed drones: Minister

Ukraine has previously used the Turkish armed drones against pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east.

Ukrainian Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, right, and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu holding folders with signed documents during their talks in Lviv, October 7, 2021 [Ukrainian Foreign Affairs press-service/AFP]

Ukraine said it will build a factory to produce Turkish armed drones that Kyiv previously bought to use against pro-Russian separatists in the east, a deal that might upset Kyiv’s adversary Moscow.

“A land plot on which the factory will be built has already been chosen,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said at a news conference on Thursday with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

“There were a number of obstacles to the implementation [of this project] but all of them have been removed,” he added, without providing further details.

Cavusoglu did not speak specifically about the subject but stressed that Kyiv and Ankara were “in the process of strengthening their relations in many sectors”, including defence.

Moreover, the Turkish foreign minister in a tweet said his country was “fully supporting territorial integrity of Ukraine and “tourism relations” between the two nations were “rapidly developing”.

In late September, Ukrainian Minister of Defence Andriy Taran and Haluk Bayraktar – CEO of the Turkish company Baykar that produces Bayraktar armed drones – signed a memorandum to establish a joint training and maintenance centre for the drones in Ukraine.

“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said after the signing of the memorandum with Baykar.

“This is an important event for us,” he added, according to a statement from the presidency.

Baykar will build this centre on the land that belongs to Ukraine’s defence ministry near the town of Vasylkiv, located about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Kyiv.

Ukraine has previously bought the Bayraktar TB2 drones, Baykar’s flagship model that has been used in conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to media reports, Kyiv plans to buy approximately 50 such devices.

The sale of drones to Kyiv, however, places Ankara in a delicate position, as Turkey also cooperates in the defence sector with Russia, Ukraine’s rival.

The Ukrainian army has been locked in a long-running conflict with separatist fighters in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014 after Moscow annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Kyiv.

The conflict has killed more than 13,000.

Source: AFP, Al Jazeera