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Lithuania crowdfunds $5.4 million to buy Ukraine a feared Bayraktar combat drone

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/29/2022 kcorcoran@businessinsider.com (Kieran Corcoran)
A file image of a Bayraktar TB2 drone being paraded in Baku, Azerbaijan in December 2020. Valery Sharifulin/Getty Images © Valery Sharifulin/Getty Images A file image of a Bayraktar TB2 drone being paraded in Baku, Azerbaijan in December 2020. Valery Sharifulin/Getty Images
  • A crowdfunding effort in Lithuania raised $5.4 million in three days to buy Ukraine a combat drone.
  • The money was raised to get a Bayraktar TB-2, which has proved very effective against Russian tanks.
  • Ukrainian soldiers repeatedly cite the drones in propaganda videos mocking the invading Russians.

Lithuania has raised €5 million ($5.4 million) from its citizens to buy a Bayraktar TB-2 drone for the Ukrainian military.

The country's official Twitter account celebrated the milestone on Saturday, which it said was achieved in three days thanks mostly to small donations.

Bayraktar drones are among the most modern and celebrated weapons in Ukraine's arsenal against Russia, and have become a part of Ukrainian military folklore.

Early in the war, the Ukrainian military posted a series of videos showing Bayraktar strikes on columns of Russian armor that left smoking wreckage behind.

Ukrainian forces say their Bayraktar drones scored against multiple Russian targets, presenting these videos as evidence. Ukraine Armed Forces/Facebook/Insider © Ukraine Armed Forces/Facebook/Insider Ukrainian forces say their Bayraktar drones scored against multiple Russian targets, presenting these videos as evidence. Ukraine Armed Forces/Facebook/Insider

Ukrainian soldiers repeatedly cite the drones in propaganda videos mocking the invading Russians, and also inspired a popular song celebrating their success.


Video: Lithuanians raise money to buy drone for Ukraine (Reuters)

The drones are much slower and carry smaller payloads than US drones like the MQ-9 Reaper, but they are also significantly cheaper.

New Yorker article published in early May suggested that the Bayraktars may have been losing their edge in recent month, noting Russian claims to have shot many of them down, and a lack of recent videos of successful strikes.

Nonetheless, Ukraine thanked Lithuania, a Baltic state and EU member that borders Russia, with a post of its own.

The fundraiser was organized by Laisves TV, an online broadcaster in Lithuania founded in 2016.

The drive was an unusual addition to the stream of military aid granted to Ukraine since Russian invaded in February.

Most shipments of weapons and other military equipment have come directly governments like those of the US, UK, and European nations. Ukraine itself also started accepting donations earmarked for its armed forces when the war began.

The Lithuanian drive is unusual because the funds were earmarked for a specific piece of equipment.

Ukraine's ambassador to Lithuania, Beshta Petro, celebrated the milestone in an interview with Laisves, according to the Reuters news agency.

"This is the first case in history when ordinary people raise money to buy something like a Bayraktar," he said. "It is unprecedented, it is unbelievable."

It was not immediately clear how the funds would be used to buy the drone or how soon one could be deployed in Ukraine.

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