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Eastern Express 16.09

Turkish arms exports are one of the country’s foreign policy tools, and the impact of arms supplies to Ukraine is not to be underestimated. Turkish drones have also had a significant impact on the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus, in Azerbaijan’s victorious 2020 war with Armenia, as well as in the Central Asian countries emancipating themselves from Moscow’s influence, especially after February 2022.

The expansion of the defence industry is primarily intended to serve Turkey’s economic, defence, and technological independence. According to the government’s strategy, the sector is to achieve total independence by 2053, at the same time its export capacity is to increase to USD 50 billion, and at least 10 Turkish defence companies are to enter the ranks of the world’s 100 largest businesses of this kind.

Following Azerbaijan’s victory in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh in June 2021, it entered into a military alliance with Turkey that will co-shape the security arrangement in the South Caucasus. Azerbaijani forces took advantage of Turkish military tactics based on unmanned aerial vehicle attacks combined with ground artillery fire, which helped them prevail in combat.

Furthermore, the Polish Defense Ministry’s decision to purchase 24 Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones has had its influence on the deepening of political co-operation, e.g. between the parliaments of the two countries, and has led to a revival of dialogue and discussions between Turkey, Romania and Poland. The Turkish side declares its willingness to elevate this mechanism to the level of state leaders, which is important from the point of view of the security of NATO’s eastern flank.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles in Ukraine’s operations against Russia has even made Turkish drones a part of global pop culture. The effectiveness of Turkish equipment not only stimulates demand for Turkish defence industry products but also increases Turkey’s attractiveness as a political partner.

Turkish military equipment, especially drones, is attractive to many countries looking for battlefield-tested and relatively inexpensive gear. Coupled with a successful marketing strategy, such as donating drones free of charge in the wake of crowdfunding campaigns in Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland, Turkey can now position itself as a reliable partner in difficult times.

Eastern Exporess’ guest

Adam Michalski, research fellow at the Centre for Eastern Studies, was invited by TVP World to shed more light on the issue.

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