Hundreds of Lithuanian citizens have come together to raise almost $5 million to buy an advanced military drone for Ukraine to use in its ongoing war against Russia.
The fundraising was completed in just three and a half days and was largely made up of small donations from ordinary Lithuanian citizens, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing Laisves TV, a Lithuanian internet broadcaster that spearheaded the effort. The money, totaling $4.7 million, will now be used to purchase a Bayraktar TB2 military drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle that has proven highly effective against Russian forces.
“This is the first case in history where ordinary people raise funds to buy something like a Bayraktar. It’s unprecedented, it’s amazing,” Beshta Petro, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Lithuania, said. to Laisves TV, according to Reuters.
Ukraine had purchased nearly two dozen Bayraktar TB2 armed drones from the Turkish company Baykar in recent years, and received 16 more in early March. The drones have become legendary among the nation’s defense, and are even the subject of a folksong that claims the Bayraktar “ghosts Russian bandits,” according to The New Yorker.
Lithuania, a former Soviet Union state and NATO member, openly criticized the invasion. Along with other Baltic states, he expressed fears that Russia could spread the war to his own country and decided to step up security efforts in recent months.
Earlier this week, Lithuania’s foreign minister accused Moscow of committing ‘genocide’ and warned that if Ukraine ceded territory to Russia to help achieve peace it could ‘normalise’ this that the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to accomplish. Several Lithuanians, who donated to help purchase Bayraktar, said they were happy to help the Eastern European nation in its efforts to end the bloody war.
“Before the start of this war, none of us thought of buying weapons. But it’s normal now. Something has to be done to make the world better,” said Agne Belickaite, 32, who has sent 100 euros as soon as the fundraiser was launched on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“I have been donating to buy guns for Ukraine for a while now. And I will until I win,” she added, noting that she was partly motivated by the fear that Russia might attack Lithuania.
The Russian invasion began more than three months ago and has so far resulted in the deaths of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. However, the Russian army faced significant setbacks and achieved few military successes.