• Andrii Pokrasa, 15, was the only person in his region with a working drone
  • He relayed photos and coordinates of Russian forces to Ukrainian defences
  • His mother eventually took him to Poland so he could continue his studies

Ukrainian defenses reportedly managed to stop a column of Russian military vehicles from storming into the country’s capital during the first leg of the war, and they couldn’t have done it without the help of a 15-year-old boy.

Teenager Andrii Pokrasa aided the mission by flying his drone in late February and relaying information about the location of the Russian forces to Ukrainian defenses.

It was Pokrasa’s fear of heights that drove him toward drones, which allowed him to watch the world from above without having to take his feet off the ground. He got his first mini-drone last summer and began flying it to see the world from a new perspective.

When Russian forces invaded the country in February, Pokrasa was the only person in his region with a working drone, according to the New York Post.

“He was the only one who was experienced with drones in that region,” Yurii Kasjanov, a commander in the armed forces unmanned reconnaissance section, told Global News. “He’s a real hero, a Hero of Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s civil defense asked for the boy’s help in finding the exact coordinates of a Russian convoy and told him the approximate location of where it would be, the teen said.

Pokrasa’s neighbors were afraid that his drone-flying would put their homes at risk. So Pokrasa and his father went to a nearby field after dark, and the teenager piloted the drone from there.

The boy managed to locate the Russian column, and his father passed the information to a territorial defense unit.

“It was one of the biggest columns that was moving on the Zhytomyr road and we managed to find it because one of the trucks turned on its lights for a long time.”

The Russians were stopped near Berezivka, around 24 miles west of Kyiv.

“I gave them the coordinates and photos, and after that, they targeted the location,” the teenager added. “And I needed to coordinate more specifically where they should shell with artillery.”

Taras Troiak, a former drone retailer who heads the Federation of Drone Owners of Ukraine, told the outlet: "This kid sent GPS coordinates, and Russians, after this, became dead."

Troiak explained that many civilian drone operators have helped in the war by documenting the movement of Russian forces.

“If we didn’t have such operators and drones who can help the Ukrainian army, I think Kyiv already could be occupied by Russian forces,” Troiak added.

Pokrasa has conflicting feelings about the Russians that were killed with the help of his drone. “First of all I was so happy, but also it was people there. They were occupiers but anyway they were people,” he told the outlet.

Pokrasa continued helping Ukrainian defenses and was given a bigger drone with a longer range to identify Russian military movement.

“I tried to protect them as much as possible,” Kasjanov said about the teen and his father. “I asked Andrii ‘Are you not afraid?’ And he replied ‘Yes I am scared but I can’t do it any other way.'”

Pokrasa’s mother Iryna used to worry about her husband and son spending the night looking for Russian soldiers. She eventually took the teenager to Poland so he could continue his ninth-grade studies.

Many residents of satellite towns north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv are overcoming difficult memories of Russia's occupation
Many residents of satellite towns north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv are overcoming difficult memories of Russia's occupation AFP / Sergei CHUZAVKOV