Chinese Drone Manufacturer Suspends Operations Over Ukraine War Use – Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, the largest manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, has suspended all business activities in Ukraine and Russia after it was revealed that the drones were being used for military purposes.
DJI said that decision did not constitute a statement about either country or an indication that the company supports either side. Instead, DJI insisted that its UAVs were designed for consumer use and should not be used in a war environment.
“If they want to take, for example, a building or a factor, they can use the drones to find Ukrainian soldiers on the territory,” he said.
Russia using commercial UAVS probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Earlier in April, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense released video footage showing a Ukrainian soldier taking apart a Russian military drone. The drone appeared to have been repaired using duct tape, a bottle cap had replaced the original fuel tank lid, and the camera inside was a consumer-grade DSLR camera manufactured by Canon.
UAVs Not For Sale: Why Would DJI Suspend Operations?
The decision to suspend operations by the largest commercial drone manufacturer in the world is strange but could indicate that the Chinese Communist Party is concerned about being seen as taking a side in the conflict.
In a statement, DJI said that the company is “reassessing compliance requirements in various jurisdictions” and that all business activities in Russia and Ukraine will be suspended until the review is complete.
The company previously came under fire for selling drones to Russia, which Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov criticized in a tweet.
“Block your products that are helping Russia to kill the Ukrainians,” he said.
In March, DJI was accused of giving Russia preferential access to its AeroScope drone detection system. The company was also accused of giving faulty units of the same drone detection system to Ukraine. The company denies the allegations.
UAVs Could Make the Difference
Drones have been used extensively by Ukrainian and Russian soldiers in this conflict. The performance of unmanned aerial vehicles in Ukraine has been watched all over the world, including by the Japanese military. Japan is reportedly considering incorporating new drone technology into its armed forces and has spent the last two months assessing the performance of drones in the Ukraine conflict.
Experts also say that drones could help decide who wins in Ukraine, too.
Relatively low in cost, repairable, and easy to fly, drones allow soldiers to make precision strikes on remote sites and assess large areas without stepping foot outside of a safe zone.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.