Ankara/Kyiv: – Turkey has initiated steps to strengthen defence cooperation with Ukraine, despite repeated warnings from Russia. A few days ago, it was reported that Turkey had handed over the first unmanned Bayraktar TB2 combat drones to the Ukrainian navy. The two countries have also reportedly signed agreements and are negotiating for destroyers, engines and gas turbines.
For the past few years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been striving to increase Turkey’s international influence. In that regard, President Erdogan has taken several aggressive steps, and military cooperation with Ukraine is considered to be a part of the same efforts. Along with participation in the conflicts in Syria and Libya and strengthening defence cooperation with Russia, Turkey had also initiated moves to enhance relations with Ukraine.
In 2019, Turkey signed an agreement with Ukraine for drones. Under the USD 70 million deal, Turkey will supply Ukraine with six unmanned Bayraktar TB2 combat drones and other weapons. The first of these drones were delivered to the Ukrainian Navy, according to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry. The rest of the drones will be delivered to Ukraine within the next year, indicated the Ukrainian navy. The Ukrainian navy is said to be deploying the drones in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Following the drone deal, talks are underway between Turkey and Ukraine for destroyers, helicopters and engines for drones and gas turbines for warships. According to senior Ukrainian political officials in Turkey, Ukraine will buy two Ada class destroyers from Turkey. It is a joint venture, and it is claimed that the first destroyer will be delivered to Ukraine in 2023.
It is also reported that Ukraine will supply Turkey with attack helicopters and engines for new drones. Ukraine has also expressed willingness to supply gas turbines for Turkish warships. Analysts say the Biden administration in the United States supports this growing defence cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey. This support is believed to be a part of a strategy to deter Russia. Russia has consistently warned regarding this increasing cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned in a statement issued only a few days ago, ‘Our Turkish counterparts should carefully study the situation in Ukraine and stop providing military force to Ukraine.’ Turkey, which has stepped up defence cooperation with Ukraine, has also denied the Russian claim on Crimea. Russia is believed to be more upset because of this.