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Canada Bans Drone Technology Sales To Turkey Over Karabakh War


Nagorno-Karabakh -- An Armenian Defense Ministry photo that purportedly shows fragments of a Turkish-manufactured combat drone shot down in Nagorno-Karabakh, October 22, 2020.

Canada has formally banned the export of drone technology to Turkey, citing “credible evidence” that it was used by Azerbaijan during last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Canadian government suspended export permits for such technology in early October one week after the outbreak of large-scale fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. It pledged to investigate reports that Turkish-manufactured Bayraktar TB2 combat drones heavily used by the Azerbaijani army are equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, a Canada-based firm.

“Following this review, which found credible evidence that Canadian technology exported to Turkey was used in Nagorno-Karabakh, today I am announcing the cancellation of permits that were suspended in the fall of 2020,” Canada’s Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement issued on Monday.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said, adding that he raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day.

Cavusoglu reportedly criticized the embargo and urged Canada to reconsider it.

Nagorno-Karabakh -- An Armenian Defense Ministry photo that purportedly shows a Turkish-manufactured combat drone shot down in Nagorno-Karabakh, October 20, 2020.
Nagorno-Karabakh -- An Armenian Defense Ministry photo that purportedly shows a Turkish-manufactured combat drone shot down in Nagorno-Karabakh, October 20, 2020.

Armenia did not immediately react to Ottawa’s decision to scrap export permits to Turkey altogether.

Yerevan had welcomed the suspension of such exports in October and urged other Western countries to follow Canada’s example.

Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army claimed to have shot down several Bayraktar drones during the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10.

The Armenian Defense Ministry released in late October photographs of what it described as fragments of such unmanned aerial vehicles. One of the photos purportedly showed a drone’s largely intact camera system.

Nagorno-Karabakh -- An Armenian Defense Ministry photo that purportedly shows the camera system of a Turkish-manufactured combat drone shot down in Nagorno-Karabakh, October 20, 2020.
Nagorno-Karabakh -- An Armenian Defense Ministry photo that purportedly shows the camera system of a Turkish-manufactured combat drone shot down in Nagorno-Karabakh, October 20, 2020.

“It was manufactured by the Canadian company Wescam in June 2020 and installed on Bayraktar TB2 in September 2020,” a ministry spokeswoman said at the time.

Canada had first suspended export licenses for such equipment in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. The restrictions were then eased but re-imposed during the Karabakh war.

According to exports data cited by the Reuters news agency, Turkey’s military exports to Azerbaijan rose six-fold last year, with sales of drones and other military equipment rising to $77 million in September 2020 alone. Most of the purchased drones, rocket launchers, ammunition and other weapons were delivered after July.

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