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It is not only with guns in hand that Ukrainians contribute to the struggle against the Russian invasion. Far from the trenches, a battalion of civilians, made up of engineers, businessmen and ex-servicemen, collaborates with the Ukrainian military using drones. In March, a successful surprise attack on a Russian convoy ten kilometers from Belarus advancing toward Kiev was one of the proofs that the strategy might be paying off.
Launched eight years ago, the Aerorosvitca (aerial reconnaissance in Portuguese) program was created by civilians who wanted to contribute to the war against Russia: their technical know-how. “This is how we fight the idea that only adults win battles“, he says Country Vadim does not want to reveal his real name because, as he explains, “the group is monitored by the Russian secret services”.
“In the beginning, a lot of players didn’t understand what we were doing,” he recalls. “They called us Nerds with weapons Because we struggled with technical stuff,” says the 47-year-old man. He was once a Protestant priest and is now the chief engineer of the Aerorosvitka project, and for his work during the war, he was promoted to sergeant.
Civilian collaboration with the Ukrainian military is not new and dates back to 2014, marked by the Euromaidan protests that culminated in the resignation of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych; Annexation of the Crimean Peninsula to Russia; Rise of separatist voices in Donbass. It all started at the hands of Ukrainian-Israeli soldier Natan Chasin and bank investor Volodymyr Kosetkov-Sukach.
In the early days, they worked with cheap drones attached with GoPro cameras to carry out reconnaissance missions. Over the years, they began acquiring sophisticated equipment suitable for military use They already have their own creation: the R18 Octocopter.
According to Vadim, Aerorosvitka currently has 100 permanent employees, but hundreds of collaborators, including those who fund the project. But while cooperation with the military is now an official relationship, it was not always so. They were also removed from military installations, but the war changed that. On February 23, hours before Russian forces entered Ukraine, The group was invited and the next day, met the army See how useful it is.
Now they continue their work, not only with drones, but also with a network of front-line cameras that allow them to detect any movement in real time. According to El País, the devices transmit data to Ukrainian units via the Starlink satellite system, which businessman Elon Musk made available to Ukraine in March.
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For Vadim, ending this war is a priority and it will be “victory”. What comes next? Create a security system “so that no one attacks us”.