A teenage boy who used his drone to help Ukraine’s armed forces locate and destroy a huge Russian convoy bearing down on Kyiv in the early days of the war has been hailed as a ‘real hero of Ukraine’.
Ukraine’s territorial defence unit contacted young drone pilot Andrii Pokrasa early in the war after hearing that the teenager was a highly skilled drone operator living near Kyiv.
Andrii Pokrasa, a 15-year-old boy who lives on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, was approached by the military to help them find a Russian convoy, which was between the E40 highway between Kyiv and Zhytomyr.
Despite the threat to his life, Pokrasa took his drone into a nearby field under cover of darkness and successfully obtained photos and GPS co-ordinates of the oncoming Russian convoy, which his father forwarded to Ukrainian military via social media.
Minutes later, Ukrainian artillery rained down on the highway near Berezivka and obliterated the convoy roughly 23 miles away from the Kyiv city centre.
The move was so successful that the military handed the young boy the controls of a high-grade drone with a longer range which helped them to go ahead wnd destroy several Russian tank units and armoured vehicles as a result.
‘[Pokrasa] was the only one who was experienced with drones in that region,’ Yurii Kasjanov, the commander of a territorial defence unit that liased with the teenage drone pilot, said.
‘He’s a real hero. A hero of Ukraine.’
Pokrasa described the experience as being ‘very, very scary’, but said he wanted to prevent the Russian forces from attacking his home town.
‘[The territorial defence force] provided us information on where approximately the Russian column could be.
‘Our goal was to find the exact coordinates and provide the coordinates to the soldiers… I gave them the coordinates and photos, and after that they targeted the location,’ the teenage pilot said.
Commander Kasjanov said his territorial defence unit offered as much protection to Pokrasa and his family as they could while the teenager carried out his vital work.
Ukraine’s deployment of drones has been an integral part of their success in pushing back Putin’s forces from around Kyiv, and Military-grade drones, such as the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2, have helped Ukraine’s armed forces to inflict major losses on Russia’s motorised units since the war began.
Pokrasa told Global News he was aware of the risks involved and was afraid, but said he knew ‘I can’t do it any other way’.