The men pull apart the smouldering drone. Near the front of the advanced Ukrainian army positions, they’re deep in a forest by the city of Kreminna in the Luhansk Oblast of eastern Ukraine, and they’ve just shot this Russian armament down from the sky. Going through the wreckage, their leader, Dmytro Podvorchanskiy (known as “Duke”) from the Dnipro-1 battalion, finds the usual tangle of wire and charred debris. But across the blackened metal he sees something different: the remnants of Hànzì characters.
“Another kamikaze drone made from cheap Chinese parts,” he thinks. He remembers a recent deployment in the Kurdyumovka area, just south of Bakhmut: the Russians were hunting for Ukrainian tanks; and trying to hit the protected positions of his comrades. He saw the same drones there, too.