DJI halts business in Ukraine and Russia to prevent drone misuse

FILE - A DJI Phantom 4 drone is flown during an AviSight Drone Academy training class at the South Point Hotel & Casino on August 26, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Drone company DJI Technology Co has temporarily suspended business activities in Russia and Ukraine to prevent use of its drones in combat, in a rare case of a Chinese company pulling out of Russia because of the war.

"DJI is internally reassessing compliance requirements in various jurisdictions. Pending the current review, DJI will temporarily suspend all business activities in Russia and Ukraine," the company said in a statement released Tuesday.

Many Western brands and companies have withdrawn from the Russian market due to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, but Chinese firms have kept operating there. Beijing has refrained from publicly criticizing Russia over the war.

Both Ukraine and Russia are thought to be using DJI drones in combat, even though the company maintains that its products are intended for civilian use.

Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykhailo Federov wrote an open letter last month appealing to DJI to block sales of its drones in Russia, contending that Russian troops were using "DJI products in Ukraine in order to navigate their missiles to kill civilians."

The AeroScope system installed in DJI drones allows the detection and monitoring of other drones and their operators in the vicinity via special receivers. The worry is that Russians might be using the AeroScope system to attack Ukraine drone pilots.

DJI has rejected claims that it leaked data on Ukraine’s military positions to Russia, after German retailer Mediamarkt cited Russia’s use of DJI drones in the war as a reason it removed the company's products from its shelves.

Last week, DJI said in a statement that its drones are not marketed or sold for military use. It said it "unequivocally opposed attempts to attach weapons" to its products.

"We will never accept any use of our products to cause harm, and we will continue striving to improve the world with our work," the company said.

Another Chinese business, ride hailing company Didi Global, reversed a decision to withdraw from Russia after it was blasted by members of the Chinese public for bowing to pressure from the West.