Customs data, Western officials, and security analysts suggest that despite the sanctions imposed by Western authorities over a year ago to shut down the pipeline supplying Russia's war in Ukraine, small Chinese drones, such as the DJI Mavic 3, are still being used by the Kremlin to target Ukrainian forces.
Reports indicate that some commercial drones used in the conflict are supplied by Shenzhen-based Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology Co., commonly known as DJI, through Russian distributors. Others are being transported through the United Arab Emirates, reports the WSJ.
In 2019, the United States added DJI to its “Entity List,” which restricts American companies from doing business with the Chinese firm. DJI's absence from the world's largest Consumer Electronics Show, CES 2023, was a direct consequence of this.
Consumer drones, which are often used for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes, have reportedly been employed by Russian-backed separatists to identify and target Ukrainian troops. Because they are small and move quickly, they are hard to find and shoot down, which makes them a good choice for the Kremlin.
Russia's continued use of Chinese drones shows how hard it is for the international community to put economic sanctions on Countries that are fighting wars.
The supply chain for military equipment is complex, with many intermediaries and third-party suppliers involved, making it difficult to monitor and control the flow of goods.
Western leaders are worried about the situation and want sanctions to be enforced more strictly and more work to be done to keep track of military equipment moving across borders. But there is a chance that these efforts will just push the trade underground, making it even harder to track and control.
This development also underscores the need for a global framework for the regulation of Drone Technology, which is becoming increasingly accessible and ubiquitous. The use of drones in conflict zones raises significant ethical and security concerns, and there is a pressing need for international guidelines and regulations to ensure that the technology is used in a responsible and safe manner.
Overall, the fact that Chinese drones, like the DJI Mavic 3, are still being used in the conflict in Ukraine shows how hard it is to enforce economic sanctions and control the flow of military equipment. It also shows how important it is to have a global plan for the safe use of drone technology.
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