Military-technical cooperation will be on the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meet in Sochi. This was the response by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday, when asked about Erdogan’s revelation that Moscow had an eye on Turkey’s Bayraktar combat drones, which are currently supplied to Ukraine.
Multiple Turkish outlets reported on Tuesday that Erdogan had told his party leadership about Putin’s interest in Turkey’s military drone industry. The Russian leader reportedly raised the subject of cooperation with Baykar Makina, the makers of Bayraktar, at the July 19 meeting in Tehran. Asked about it, Peskov did not offer specifics.
“Military-technical cooperation between the two countries is constantly on the agenda,” the Kremlin spokesman told reporters. “The very fact that our interaction is developing in such a sensitive area indicates that, in general, the whole range of our relations is at a very high level.”
Erdogan is scheduled to meet Putin in Sochi on August 5. While implementation of the July 22 agreement for grain exports via the Black Sea is expected to dominate the agenda, it is now looking likely that the topic of drones will come up as well.
Reports of Russian interest in the drones have caused quite a stir, since Baykar has been supplying the Bayraktars primarily to Ukraine. Kiev had bought a dozen TB2 strike drones prior to February, and has taken the delivery of another 50 since, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Ankara has touted Baykar’s drones since 2020, when they were said to have helped Azerbaijan prevail in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Turkish troops have deployed them in Syria and Libya as well. Their reputation as “wonder weapons” has suffered somewhat in Ukraine, where they fared poorly against Russian air defenses. Kiev now reportedly reserves them only for “special missions.”
Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar went on the record to say his company would “never” sell drones to Russia, however.
“There is a strategic relationship between Turkey and Ukraine, especially in the field of aviation and space,” he told CNN just last week. “Turkey supports Ukraine with armed drone technology. We did not transmit or supply anything to Russia.”
Though Russia has its own drone program, the US has accused Moscow of wanting to buy “hundreds” of strike drones from Iran. Tehran has denied the claim.