Commercial Chinese drone-maker DJI suspends operations in Russia and Ukraine

The world’s largest commercial drone-maker DJI has suspended all business activities in Russia and Ukraine.

Since the start of the war, Ukraine has urged the company to take steps to stop its drones being used by Russia.

The Chinese firm said the decision was not a statement about any country, and its drones are not for military use.

Taras Troiak, chairman of the Ukrainian Federation of UAV Owners said this stores’ supplies of drones might run out in a few months but, in his opinion, they could be easily smuggled into Russia from China.

The drones are being used by Russia’s military for short-range reconnaissance, he says. In Mr Troiak’s view they are used “to look around, to find any soldiers around and to make sure that nobody is very close to you”.

He added: “If they want to take, for example, a building or a factory, they can use the drones to find Ukrainian soldiers on the territory.”

Mr Troiak said he understood that DJI wished to appear neutral in the conflict, but he felt supply should be cut to Russia and not to Ukraine.

“Because we are protecting our country. And we are using all sorts of civilian cars, civilian mobile phones and civilian drones. So that is not because we want to use the drones in military use, but actually, we don’t have any other choice.”

The suspension of operations by the world’s largest commercial drone-maker is unusual for a major Chinese company.

China has sought to remain neutral on the conflict, calling for a peaceful solution. But it has yet to condemn the Russian invasion.

“DJI is internally reassessing compliance requirements in various jurisdictions. Pending the current review, DJI will temporarily suspend all business activities in Russia and Ukraine,” it said in a statement.

In March, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted DJI to say: “Block your products that are helping Russia to kill the Ukrainians.”