Technology up front. Drone operator: God will decide everything

  • – It stays in my memory on March 26th. It was hard, we were going to storm the village, and we lacked equipment – he remembers. – We had rifles and literally some anti-tank weapons. The Russians had a lot of transporters and tanks. Bullets whistled in all directions. That day was more terrible than any bombardment – he adds
  • – I can thank the Poles for their support. I have also experienced this. My family is now in Krakow. My children have been in school there for 8-9 months. On the first day of the war, other children came up to them and hugged them. Classmates brought them sweets. When hearing Ukrainian, people ask: how are the relatives? – said Krawtsow
  • One of Oleksandr’s soldiers shows us the drone’s reconnaissance capabilities, the thermal vision mode. “It works really well at night,” he says. – Mavic 2 or Mavic 3 is much harder to track. Yesterday we flew the Mavic 2 and two rockets came right away.
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Ukrainian correspondence by Marcin Wyrwał. War is a time of unexpected encounters and discoveries. I went to the military operations area to a soldier who stands on the front line, not only military, but also technological. I first met him eight years ago, when he was beaten by the pro-Russian Berkut militia on the revolution-ridden Maidan.

Heavy fighting is taking place all along the Donbass front. Arriving in the city, I witness an attack by Russian fighters.

– There was a single-family house here. An apartment was killed – says Oleksandr Krawtsow. – I saw the ambulance take the body – he adds. – A civilian woman who had just lived in this house was killed.

Oleksander Krawtsow – my companion – is a man whose wife I met 8 years earlier during the Maidan revolution in kyiv. So Oleksandra couldn’t be with us.

– My husband, Oleksander, is an activist in Auto Maidan – a campaign in which people drive cars to offer help – Krawtsov’s wife said many years ago in a video recording.

– Berkut published information on the Internet that the people of Maidan needed help. Militants went there, but it was a trap. Berkut caught 18 people, including Oleksandr, he said.

– First, they beat them. A dentist had 5 broken teeth. They must have beaten people there before, because there was already blood in the snow. Then they took off their clothes and made them lie down or kneel in the snow at -12 degrees C – he adds.

Oleksandr spent nearly three weeks in detention. When he came out, the 2014 war began. – The 2014 war was only a prelude, he says. – Like a movie trailer that showed what would happen to the rest of the country if we didn’t unite and push back the enemy.

– I didn’t want to be an ordinary soldier with a gun. I wanted to master something more advanced, related to technology, because it is understood that only a modern army can win, explains Oleksandr. Today, Oleksandr is a technology specialist. Including – drones.

– I press “Fly” – says the man from Oleksandr, who showed us one of these machines. – The screen shows “3…2…1…” – and I run it.

The man shows us the drone’s recognition capabilities, the thermal vision mode. “It works really well at night,” he says.

– Mavic 2 or Mavic 3 is much harder to track. Yesterday we flew the Mavic 2 and two rockets came right away.

Oleksandr’s folks also run Starlinks, billionaire Elon Musk’s satellite communications systems, which the Russians can’t break.

– We are happy that our western partners give us the latest communication systems which are well secured – says the other operator. “Our enemies don’t have that,” he adds.

To what extent does the army need new technologies? Oleksandr discovered it during the first month of the war.

– It stays in my memory on March 26th. It was hard, we were going to storm the village, and we lacked equipment – he remembers. – We had rifles and literally some anti-tank weapons. The Russians had a lot of transporters and tanks. Bullets whistled in all directions. That day was more terrible than any bombardment – he adds.

– I remember a tank shot me because he saw that I was controlling a drone. Fortunately, I was able to hide – says Oleksandr. “But when you go to attack, it’s terrible.” Bullets are flying all over the place. – You start playing something like “God decides everything”. A person can be careful to act wisely, but the risk is still too high. Then I lost my student I was teaching to fly. It was mentally difficult.

– I then realized how much technology was lacking: equipment, reconnaissance, communication between units. The attack requires high-level communication to be able to work together, says Oleksandr.

– In terms of reconnaissance, Ukraine mainly lacks long-range equipment, 10-15 km.

Oleksandr plans to stay at the front until the end of the war because he knows his family is safe.

– I can thank the Poles for this support. I have also experienced this. My family is now in Krakow. My children have been in school there for 8-9 months. On the first day of the war, other children came up to them and hugged them. Classmates brought them sweets. When hearing Ukrainian, people ask: how are the relatives? – he says.

– I then felt a great support. I never imagined that the Ukrainian national anthem and the blue and yellow flag could resonate on Polish television. Many people have felt this support. The more I know our history, which has not been simple – he adds. “But after something like that, you get the feeling that the man on the other side is like your brother.

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