December 10, 2022

Ukraine teenage drone champion ‘happy we destroyed someone’

Andrei Pokrasa, 15, and his father, Stanislav, were welcomed to Ukraine for their volunteer aerial reconnaissance work in the early days of the invasion, when Russian forces rushed in from the north. A failed attempt at the end To take the capital and get to its knees.

For an entire week after the February 24 invasion, the couple made frequent overflights with their drone—risking capture, or worse, if Russian forces knew of their intrusion.

“These were some of the scariest moments of my life,” Andrey recounted as he explained his leadership skills to a team of Associated Press reporters.

“We provided the photos and the website to the armed forces,” he said. “They narrowed down the coordinates more precisely and transmitted them by means of a walkie-talkie, in order to adjust the artillery.”

His father was happy to leave the leadership to the boy.

I can operate the drone, but my son does it better. “We decided right away that he was going to do it,” said Stanislav Pokrasa, 41.

They are not sure how many Russian targets have been destroyed using the information they provided. But they saw the devastation of the Russian convoy when they later put the drone back over the charred hulls of trucks and tanks near a town west of Kyiv and off a strategically important highway leading to the capital.

“More than 20 Russian military vehicles were destroyed, among them fuel trucks and tanks,” the father said.

While Russian and Ukrainian forces were fiercely fighting for control of the suburbs of Kyiv, Ukrainian soldiers finally urged the Pokrassa family to leave their village, which was later occupied by Russian forces.

With all adult men up to the age of 60 under government orders to remain in the country, Bukrassa the Elder was unable to rejoin his wife and son when they fled to neighboring Poland.

They returned a few weeks ago, when Andrei finished his school year.

“I was glad we destroyed someone,” he said. “I was glad I contributed, because I was able to do something. Not just sit and wait.”