DJI, the world’s largest commercial drone maker, has recently suspended all activities with Russia and Ukraine
From the beginning of the war, Ukraine has urged DJI to suspend all its drones in Russia.
DJI, the Chinese firm, then stated that the decision was not a statement for any country and that the drones were not meant for military use.
But the Chairman of the Ukrainian Federation of UAV Owners, Taras Troiak, told BBC that he doubted that it would stop the Rusian Military from using DJI drones.
According to him, the supplies could easily be smuggled from China to Russia. Even though the supplies might run out, it was not a reasonable solution.
The Russian military has been using drones for short-range reconnaissance. According to Mr Troiak, drones are used to look out for soldiers.
He also stated that “if they want to take, a building or a factory they could use the drones to find the Ukrainian soldiers in the territory”.
Mr Troiak understood the need for DJI to stay neutral in the war. But he felt that the supply needed to be cut to Russia, not Ukraine.
He also stated that they are trying to protect their country. They are using civilian cars, civilian drones and mobile phones. Their purpose to not for military use but because they don’t have any other choice.
DJI has also specified that using their drones for military purposes is against their principles.
It is unusual for the world’s largest commercial drone-maker in China to suspend their activities.
China has taken a neutral stand in the conflict by offering a peaceful solution. But it is yet to condemn Russia for its invasion.
DJI is currently reassessing the compliance requirements for the various jurisdictions. So, DJI has temporarily suspended all business with Ukraine and Russia due to the pending review.
In March 2022, Ukraine’s Vice President, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted DJI. “Block your products that are helping Russia to kill the Ukrainians.”
He attached an open letter to the tweet alleging that Russia was using DJI drones that were helping Russia target missiles.
At this, the company replied with stress that the products were only for civilian use.
They also replied, saying that if Ukraine requests them, they could turn on geofencing. This helps to create a system that restricts the drones that may operate and prevent DJI drones. Irrespective of whether it is Russian or Ukrainian.
But they warned the system wasn’t foolproof.
Not for combatting
Mr. Troiak shared a link to a video with the BBC. The link showed how Russian forces used a drone in combat in Mariupol. The controller had the DJI’s logo completely visible on the controller.
To this, DJI answered:
- They don’t market or sell their products for military use
- They don’t offer after-sales services for products that are being used for military purposes
- They don’t customize or enable modifications that could allow the products for military use.
A DJI spokesperson told BBC that they are concerned about the reported military use of their drones. DJI only ever made products for civilian use. Not for military applications.