The use of Turkish drones in the eastern Donbass conflict is defensive and does not violate agreements, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement late Friday.
Turkey's Bayraktar TB2 combat drones were deployed by the Ukrainian army – which has quite a few of them in its inventory – for the first time recently to destroy a howitzer used by pro-Russian separatists in Donbass.
The Bayraktar TB2 was used for the first time to force the separatists to abide by a cease-fire, the armed forces said in a Facebook statement.
One Ukrainian soldier was killed and two others were wounded by the howitzers, the statement said.
The Kremlin said Wednesday that its fears about Turkey's decision to sell strike drones to Ukraine were being realized and that the Turkish drones risked destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was commenting on media reports that Ukrainian government forces had successfully deployed a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone to strike a position in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
Russian forces annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in February 2014, with President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.
Turkey and the U.S. as well as the U.N. General Assembly view the annexation as illegal.
Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Donbass has seen more than 13,000 people killed since 2014, according to the United Nations.
The region is one of several sources of friction between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine previously operated the Turkish combat drone, using the latest smart ammunition by another Turkish defense giant, Roketsan during the Sea Breeze 2021 military exercise in June.
The Ukrainian army, both the land forces and the navy have Bayraktar TB2s – manufactured by Baykar – in its inventory.
The Bayraktar TB2 has been sold to countries including Ukraine, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Poland. In May, Poland became the first European Union and NATO member state to acquire drones from Turkey.
Saudi Arabia is also said to have been interested in buying Turkish drones. Latvia also hinted that it could be the second European Union and NATO member state to acquire the Turkish UCAVs. Albania and Kyrgyzstan have also shown interest in striking a deal to procure Bayraktar TB2s.