EYES ON UKRAINE is striving to get as many drones as possible in the air over the places in Ukraine where fighting is going on, so the truth will not perish in this war. If people can document the war with drones, they are able to share what is happening. As a result, it will become much more difficult to deny attacks on civilian targets or the use of forbidden bombs.
EyesOnUkraine.org is a sister organization of EyesOnUkraine.eu and set up specifically to promote their cause in the United Kingdom.
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21.07.2022 Cambridge Judge-led initiative to use drones to help document Ukraine atrocities.
A UK initiative led by two Cambridge MBA students and Professor Mark de Rond of Cambridge Judge Business School seeks to document war crimes in Ukraine through drone-delivered images.
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Why are you doing this in addition to existing charities? Isn't the reception of refugees, with food and shelter, more important? Most existing charities and fundraisers focus on helping victims. While this help is essential, we want to offer support to the local population on the ground who are trying to provide coverage of war crimes. The drones purchased by funds provided to EyesOnUkraine.org are distributed to ordinary citizens and journalists in strategic locations across Ukraine.
What can the drones do? The drones are small and light (about the size of a blackbird) and are equipped with high-quality cameras that can take sharp images from a height up to 100 meters. They are hard to spot at that distance and difficult to hit. Therefore, the operator of the drone is typically less vulnerable than someone filming with a mobile phone.
The drones cannot carry any extra weight, so it is not possible for them to transport weapons. We have received reports that DJI drones were shot at with guided artillery. We consider this to be a gain, as artillery equipment is far more expensive than our drones. So let it be used against drones instead of people as we can always provide new drones.
Are the drone operators at risk? Yes. The drones and controllers can be traced, and operators are aware of that. The drone operators are informed of the risks involved. We help them with necessary adjustments to the software to minimise the risk of being traced.
Can we see any images captured by the drones? The drones belong to the operators, so we have no control over the images. We have given the operators access to secure servers so their material can be stored safely. If we get permission to use the images, we will certainly do so. We know that most images are not immediately distributed, as they could be useful to the Russian military. We are monitoring video and news platforms and will distribute the images as soon as they become available.
How do you know whether the drones end up in the right place? We work closely with a Ukrainian agency, which has long partnered with the people behind EyesOnUkraine.eu (including prior to the war). They act as our distributor for drones in Ukraine, having moved from Kyiv to Lviv since the war. Most of the requests for drones are coming from local journalists in war zones, yet we cannot guarantee for certain that every drone will end up in the right place. Yet, considering the situation in Ukraine right now, this is the best way forward.
Is there still internet access in the war zones? Most of Ukraine still has 3G. There are also alternatives, we take Starlink kits with us, for satellite internet access. Furthermore, our drones are able to store captured images on an SD card. These can be transported and read in a place with internet access.
Isn't it difficult to enter Ukraine with the drones? Yes, it is difficult. Even with the help of the agency, we still must put the effort into taking the drones into the country. We have letters of recommendation from Ukrainian dignitaries with us. This offers no easy pass, but it does help us cross the border.
How does the financing work? All logistics and overhead costs are carried by the Ukrainian agency we work with. So, all funds go directly towards the purchase of drones. So far, we are managing the initiative through personal financial accounts, as we wanted to start as soon as possible, yet a creation of charity is being considered in the longer term.
Do you still need help? In addition to donations and people who can help us raise more money (are you, or do you know a social media influencer?), we are looking for contacts who can provide us with Starlink kits. Aggregates are in high demand as well, so if you can spare one, please let us know. As far as drivers and programmers are concerned, we already have sufficient volunteers. Any advice is welcome, please contact us at our email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
How long will you continue? Our support is very much appreciated by the people in Ukraine and as long as this is the case, we will keep going. For now, we would like to contribute to the effort with the drones purchased for the UK donations and deliver the first UK-funded batch to Ukraine.