Ukraine Keeps Snapping Up Chinese Drones

China's DJI is effectively part of the Ukrainian military machine (and the Russian one)

Yesterday Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has announced it has signed a contract for the supply of 4000 Chinese DJI Mavic 3 drones for 14.5 million USD.

It has already allocated money for another 16,000 such machines.

This is simply business as usual since a great deal of DJI’s output ends up in Ukraine:

The Oct. 8 statement made by Denys Shmyhal at the Kyiv International Economic Forum that Ukraine is effectively buying 60% of DJI’s global output of Mavic quadcopter drones, even though the vendor officially prohibits selling to militaries, highlights how commercial technology with military utility can permeate conflict zones practically unimpeded.

According to a recent New York Times report based on official Ukrainian and Russian customs data from a third-party provider, between January and June, Kyiv is estimated to have received “millions” of Chinese-made drones and spare parts, primarily coming from European intermediaries.

DJI announced in spring 2022 that it will sell to neither Ukraine nor Russia. At that time the fear in the West was that DJI would be supplying Russia, so this was a way for DJI to get ahead of such allegations and avert sanctions.

Instead what has happened is that DJI has effectively become a part of, primarily, the Ukrainian military machine, and only secondarily of the Russian one.

Though to be perfectly fair it isn’t entirely clear how DJI could prevent resales to Ukraine. (Or to Russia.)

1 Comment
  1. Scott says

    China’s business model is like unto America’s in the 1930s: sell to both sides, loan money to both sides, supply both sides.

    But a question arises: will China join the fray and send its personnel into combat once it becomes clear who the winner will be, like America did in 1917 and 1942?

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