A DJI drone store in Shanghai in December.
HONG KONG—China’s SZ DJI Technology Co., the world’s largest maker of consumer drones, said it is suspending business activities in Ukraine and Russia pending a compliance review.
The disclosure by the Shenzhen-based company follows complaints from Ukrainian officials of technical glitches in its products that they said appeared to aid Russia’s military activities in the country. DJI has said that it never tampered with its products and that it was trying to fix the malfunction problems.
“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 brief statement Tuesday.
DJI didn’t say which compliance requirements were behind its decision. The U.S. and its allies have imposed an array of wide-ranging export controls and sanctions on Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. They include a ban on exports to Russia’s defense sector and complex restrictions on the export to Russia of foreign products made using U.S. equipment, software or blueprints.
Although numerous Western firms have publicly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and announced curtailments in business in Russia, Chinese companies have been largely silent on the conflict despite controlling large shares of the market for many products.
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Drones have played an outsize role in the Russia-Ukraine war. Recently, devices from U.S. startups have increasingly been used by Ukrainians in search-and-rescue efforts and other aspects of the country’s defense. That comes after Ukrainian officials raised concerns about Russia’s successful use of DJI equipment. In March, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on DJI in a public letter to halt its business in Russia.
Ukrainian officials also complained about the failure of a DJI product known as AeroScopes, drone-detection systems used to identify and track other drones and their pilots. Ukraine had used AeroScopes around the country, in some cases to protect critical infrastructure. Ukrainian officials and DJI said several of these systems wouldn’t switch on at the start of the war, prompting some Ukrainians to allege that DJI had tampered with the systems to allow Russian drones to fly undetected.
DJI has said its products are for civilian use only and the company deplores the use of its products to cause harm.
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