Carefully tiptoeing around Western scrutiny over its involvement in the Ukraine war, Chinese drone manufacturer DJI is in the spotlight again after a former Russian army general hailed its drones’ capability in Russia’s military operation.

Army General Yuri Baluyevsky, the former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, said in his new book, “The Mavic quadcopter drone made by China’s DJI has become a true symbol of modern warfare.” Baluyevsky praised the Mavic quadcopter drone’s “pinpoint accuracy and efficiency.”

According to the South China Morning Post, the statement appeared in a Weibo post on August 12th from the official account of the Russian Embassy in Beijing. Baluyevsky added that conventional artillery weaponry has undergone “a real revolution” thanks to Chinese commercial drones. 

The Weibo update is no longer available. State-backed DJI also responded on August 13th, “All DJI products are designed for civilian purposes and cannot meet the requirements of military specifications. We do not support applications for military purposes.”

Washington blacklisted DJI late last year for its potential links to the Chinese military in conducting genocide against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. However, in his book, the ex-Russian army general touted that its drone can act like precision-guided missiles when it hovers above a target area to direct the artillery.

DJI did not cease its business in Russia and Ukraine until April this year, two months into the conflict between the two countries. The move was also taken one month after Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister alleged on Twitter that the Russian forces were using DJI products to navigate their missiles to kill civilians.

At the time, DJI condemned the usage of its drones for harmful ends. But it rejected Ukraine’s request to disable foreign drones operating on its shore, saying that it can only numb all drones no matter who the operator is.

In April, IPVM Video Surveillance Information analyst Charles Rollet commented, “DJI is a Chinese state-backed company but it wants to be seen as a neutral global manufacturer so the Russian invasion has brought unprecedented scrutiny against it and I think DJI is incredibly concerned about being perceived as an agent of Beijing.”

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