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Czech company says Russia obtained its drone components via third parties

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 3, 2023 5:09 PM 2 min read
The soldier's photo of the drone's motor with "Made in Czech Republic" visible, posted on Aug. 2, 2023. ( @slovyanskasil / Twitter)
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The Czech company AXI Model Motors stated on Aug. 3 that it has "never supplied its products to the military," after a Ukrainian soldier found a component it had manufactured inside a Russian drone.

The soldier shared photos on Aug. 2 of the Russian Lancet drone, that he said had been downed near Bakhmut. The words "Made in the Czech Republic" and the AXI Model Motors logo are visible on the motor.

The Lancet drone is a type of UAV regularly used by the Russian military for both reconnaissance and strikes.

In response, Model Motors stated that its "products have been misused by a third party in abroad for sale into some of the types of weapons he uses Russian army," and that steps have been taken to ensure this can no longer happen.

The component in question is no longer manufactured, the company clarified.

AXI Model Motors added that "our company fully supports Ukraine in its struggle for freedom."

The Prague-based newspaper Deník N reported on Aug. 3 that the Czech authorities have been aware of instances of Czech-made engines being found inside Russian drones for over a year.

The intelligence services visited the owners of Model Motors at the start of the full-scale invasion and continue to investigate how their components end up in the hands of the Russian military, according to the report.

There is no information that the company supplied the motors directly to Russia, but rather, "companies from China, Taiwan and one eastern country from the former Soviet Union" purchased the components before February 2022, according to Deník N. The newspaper points to Kyrgyzstan as the likely "eastern country"

According to the Washington Post, records show a huge increase in the trade in parts for drones, aircraft, and bombs to Russia by Kyrgyz firms. Several Kyrgyz companies that were suspected of helping Russia bypass sanctions were sanctioned by the U.S. on July 20.

"We have been dealing with the whole situation for a long time with the authorities involved in order to uncover the path by which the engines got to Russia," Motor Models told Deník N.

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