A Ukrainian Teen’s Remote-Controlled Drone Helped His Military Destroy 20 Russian Tanks

·2 min read
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
  • Spontaneous drone-spying by a Ukrainian teenager helped the country’s military pinpoint an artillery strike on invading forces.

  • By flying a personal drone, Andriy Pokrasa was able to get coordinates of an approaching Russian advancement.

  • Thanks to the information from the drone, at least 20 Russian military vehicles were destroyed.

For 15-year-old Ukrainian Andriy Pokrasa, there was no chance of just sitting back and doing nothing as Russian forces approached both his village and Kyiv. The teenager—working with his dad, Stanislav—put his drone-flying skills to the ultimate use.

For a full week after the February 24 invasion, the father-and-son team worked together to take photos of Russian military vehicle movements with their drone, the Associated Press reports. They sent that information to the Ukrainian military and then watched as—mere minutes later—artillery took out multiple Russian vehicles.

“These were some of the scariest moments of my life,” Andriy tells the AP about risking his life to get the information. “We provided the photos and the locations to the armed forces. They narrowed down the coordinates more accurately and transmitted them by walkie-talkie, so as to adjust the artillery.”

When the Russian convoy of tanks and trucks neared the Pokrasa’s village, west of Kyiv, the boy and his dad worked together to get their small drone airborne. Andriy flew the drone because, as his dad says, he’s much better at it, taking photos of the armored column off a highway leading to the capital and helping communicate the location coordinates to the Ukrainian military. At one point, just minutes after sending across information, Ukrainian military forces destroyed part of the advancement.

Military experts have called the Russian failure of a full Kyiv capture a “defeat for the ages,” helped, in part, by the work of the Pokrasa team.

There’s no exact number of vehicle kills attributed specifically to the information from Andriy’s expert drone-flying, but Stanislav says that when they flew the drone back over the area afterward, they saw more than 20 fully-destroyed Russian military vehicles, including fuel trucks and tanks.

While the Ukrainian counterattack helped stave off a full Kyiv invasion, the family’s town was eventually occupied, and Stanislav stayed back while the rest of his family fled to Poland. They’ve since returned, meeting up with AP journalists to share their story.

“I was happy that we destroyed someone,” Andriy says. “I was happy that I contributed, that I was able to do something. Not just sitting and waiting.”

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