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Lithuania to send Ukraine crowdfunded combat drone

Lithuania on Wednesday showed off a crowdfunded Turkish-made military drone that it plans to send to Ukraine to help the war-torn country fight Russia’s invasion. “This weapon… will be delivered to Ukraine immediately,” Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas told reporters at the Baltic state’s northern air base in Siauliai. People in the NATO member country raised 5.9 million euros for the Bayraktar TB2 drone over three days last month, before its Turkish manufacturer Baykar announced it would donate the drone free of charge. A portion of the crowdfunded funds were used to equip the drone with munitions while the rest went towards humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Andrius Tapinas, founder of the Internet broadcaster Laisves TV which organised the public fundraising campaign, said that beyond procuring the drone, “we showed the world what a small united nation can do”. Ukraine’s ambassador to Lithuania, Petro Beshta, lauded the EU member’s “leadership”, attributing the initiative to a “unique strategy and synergy of society and state authorities”. “Only creative solutions and initiatives can help us win the war unleashed against all of humanity and ensure security in these turbulent times,” he told reporters. An item of national pride, Turkish combat drones went into action in Ukraine right after Russia launched its invasion on February 24, with Kyiv seeing it as a particularly powerful weapon against Russian forces.

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