In just three-and-a-half days, Lithuania has raised €5m ($5.4m) through a crowdfunding campaign among its citizens to help Ukraine buy more Baykar Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) for use against invading Russian forces.
The campaign – which was launched by the Lithuanian internet broadcaster Laisves TV on May 25 – aimed to raise money to support Ukrainian efforts to purchase more Bayraktars, which have proved to be a celebrated and valued asset in defensive efforts against Russian ground and naval forces.
The €5m target amount was reached on May 28, with the Lithuanian people contributing donations of varying sizes – generally between €5 and €100 – to the fundraiser, according to local media sources.
In an interview with Laisves TV, Beshta Petro – the Ukrainian ambassador to Lithuania – said: “This is the first case in history when ordinary people raise money to buy something like a Bayraktar. It is unprecedented, it is unbelievable.”
The Ukrainian government took to social media to thank the Lithuanians who donated, saying: “We will never forget what you did for us on so many fronts. Aciiu (thank you) to every Lithuanian who donated, your present will be put to good use.”
Currently, it is unclear how and when these funds will be used to procure the Turkish-built Bayraktars for Ukraine and how soon such platforms could be deployed to the war-torn nation after that purchase has been made. It is also unclear how many Bayraktars will be acquired with the funds raised from this fundraising effort.