Hundreds of Lithuanian citizens rallied together to raise nearly $ 5 million to purchase an advanced military drone for Ukraine to use in its ongoing war against Russia.
The fundraiser was completed in just three and a half days, and was largely comprised of small donations from ordinary Lithuanian citizens, Reuters reported Saturday, citing Laisves TV, a Lithuanian internet broadcaster that launched the effort. The money, a total of $ 4.7 million, will now be used to purchase a Bayraktar TB2 military drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle that has proven highly successful against Russian forces.
“This is the first case in history when ordinary people raise money to buy something like a Bayraktar. It is unprecedented, it is unbelievable,” Beshta Petro, Ukraine’s ambassador to Lithuania, told Laisves TV, according to Reuters.
Ukraine had purchased nearly two dozen of Bayraktar TB2 armed drones from the Turkish company Baykar in recent years, and received an additional 16 in early March. The drones have become legendary amongst the nation’s defense, and is even the subject of a folk song that claims the Bayraktar “makes ghosts out of Russian bandits,” according to The New Yorker.
Lithuania, a former Soviet Union state and NATO member, has been an outspoken critic of the invasion. Along with other Baltic states, it has expressed fears that Russia could expand the war into its own country, and has moved to ramp up security efforts in recent months.
Earlier this week, Lithuania’s foreign minister accused Moscow of committing “genocide,” and warned that if Ukraine were to give up territory to Russia to help reach peace, it could “normalize” what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime is trying to accomplish. Several Lithuanians, who donated to help purchase the Bayraktar, said they were happy to help the Eastern European nation in its effort to end the bloody war.
“Before this war started, none of us thought we would be buying guns. But it’s a normal thing now. Something must be done for the world to get better,” said 32-year-old Agne Belickaite, who sent 100 euros as soon as the fundraising launched on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“I’ve been donating to buy guns for Ukraine for a while now. And will do so until the victory,” she added, while noting that she is motivated in part by fears that Russia could attack Lithuania.
The Russian invasion began more than three months ago, and so far resulted in the deaths of thousands of Ukrainian troops and civilians. However, the Russian military has been met with significant pushback, and has gained few military successes.