One of the Keys to Ukraine’s Success During the Russian Invasion Has Been the Use of Drone Technology

Though it is hard to get any definitive information from Russian forces, presumably, President Vladimir Putin figured his invasion of Ukraine would be quick, one Ukraine’s small military would be unprepared to hold off. However, thanks to an undeniable sense of patriotism, the Ukrainian people, under the leadership of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have shown that they are not willing to bow down to Russia. One of the keys to Ukraine’s success has been the use of drone technology.

Ukrainian allies have stepped up to donate weapons, medical supplies, food, and drones to Ukraine, while carefully toeing the line so as not to become officially involved in the conflict. The Biden administration recently announced they would be sending Ukraine an $800million aid package, added to the $1.7billion package they had already sent in February. These packages included ammunition, armored carriers, chemical, biological, and nuclear defensive equipment. The packages also provided Ukrainian forces with much needed drones like the AeroVironment Switchblade drone. But long before these foreign aid packages began to reach Ukraine, the military sent out a call to civilians to see if they could provide drone services.

In February, as Russian forces approached Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, 15 year old Andrii Pokrasa, was one of the hundreds of Ukrainian civilians who stepped up with a drone to protect his country. The previous summer Andrii purchased a toy drone, one small enough to fit in the palm of his hand. After getting the drone, he quickly learned how to pilot it and began flying it daily. When he saw the FaceBook post from the Ukrainian military looking for drone pilots, he knew he could help.

Andrii and his father went out to an isolated field and night so the drone could not draw any attention to the residential areas. Flying the drone over E40 highway between Kyiv and Zhytomyr, Andrii was able to identify a Russian convoy when one of the trucks turned on its lights for a few minutes. Andrii captured images with the drone’s camera while his father noted the GPS coordinates. Andrii and his father then relayed the information to Ukrainian forces, who were able to precisely attack and stop the convoy from claiming the capital.

Yurii Kasjanov, a commander with Ukraine’s unmanned recon unit, said that Andrii saved his city. “He’s a real hero, a Hero of Ukraine,” Yurii said. “He was the only one who was experienced with drones in that region.” When asked how he felt knowing that his drone stopped the Russian convoy, Andrii was torn over his emotions. He is only 15, and though he saved Kyiv, the Russian soldiers were killed. “First of all I was so happy, but also it was people there,” he said. “They were occupiers but anyway they were people.” As a way of thanking Andrii, and providing him with a means of continuing to protect his home, Ukraine’s civil defense gave him a more advanced drone to patrol the skies with.

Shortly after Andrii’s heroic acts, his family fled to Poland for safety. In Poland, Andrii had a chance to be a kid again and go back to school. Once Ukrainian forces reinforced Kyiv and its surrounding areas, his family returned home. Andrii continues to fly his new drone daily to patrol his community, keeping them safe. Andrii’s is just one of the hundreds of drones that are helping Ukraine minimize the inevitable damages of war.

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