Turkey supplies Ukraine with hundreds of heavy machine guns

Turkish private arms producer Canik delivers hundreds of heavy machine guns to Ukraine that could be combined with armoured vehicles, with more to be delivered in the future

By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul
2 October 2023

Turkey is supplying Ukraine with heavy machine guns and has already delivered more than 600 units, two sources familiar with the sale told Middle East Eye.

Ankara was already known to have been quietly arming Kyiv since the beginning of the war last year with armed drones, laser-guided missiles, protective gear, and armoured vehicles.

But it has recently started to supply Canik M2 heavy machine gun models, which could be used by ground troops as well as combined with armoured vehicles.

One source said several contracts were signed with Turkish private arms producer Canik in March.

The second source said more than 600 had already been delivered to Kyiv to be used by several services, including military and intelligence

“The deal envisions a much larger number delivered than 600; more will be sent in coming months,” the source added.

MEE reached out to Canik for comment.

Increasing Ukraine support?

One Ankara-based expert said that each machine gun was estimated to be priced between $15,000 and $20,000, which puts the value of the current delivery above $10m.

The defence blog Armourer Bench reported last month, based on publicly available pictures, that two models of the Turkish-made M2 heavy machine guns were introduced in Ukraine since April.

“Back in April, Ukraine received a shipment of dual mounted M2F guns which were seen mounted on Nissan pickup trucks,” the blog said.

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They were already seen in a photograph of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky inspecting the new equipment for Ukraine’s border guard service.

The blog added that M2F models were delivered to target small drones, which have been increasingly used by the Russian army in recent months.

Regional heavyweight Iran has supplied Russia with hundreds of cheap Shahed-type loitering munitions (single-use, explosive-laden drones) that Moscow has used against Ukraine’s electricity grid.

Tehran consistently denies providing Russia with any drones since the outbreak of the war.

One Ukrainian source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the machine guns could be mounted on Turkish BMC Kirpi armoured vehicles, which were delivered to Ukraine last year.

The Armourer Bench estimates that over 200 Kirpis were delivered to Ukrainian forces.

Canik also says on its website that the heavy machine gun had been widely used on armoured and light vehicles, naval vessels, as well as by infantry on a tripod mount in anti-vehicle and anti-personnel roles.

“We are aware that the machine guns aren’t a game changer for the war against Russia,” the source said. “But does it shoot? It shoots. So it is a big help.”

Turkey, a Nato member, has managed to retain cordial relations with both Russia and Ukraine over the past 16 months of the war and last year helped to broker prisoner exchanges.

Turkey has not joined its western allies in imposing economic sanctions on Russia, but has meanwhile supplied arms to Ukraine and called for its sovereignty to be respected.

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