Ukraine, story of Katherina: the brave soldier who pilots drones

She is 26 years old, small (one and a half meters) but determined: she chose the army shortly before the Russian invasion and now in Donetsk she has mastered the weapons that are proving to be decisive in the conflict. With one big fear

  katherina-drones-ukraine-today-44 Katherina, 26, enlisted shortly before the Russian invasion and is now 'piloting' drones Video

She is just over 1.5 m tall Katherina, has small hands and a long braid of brown hair. But she never lets herself be put down, not even when her colleagues at the kebab stall laugh at her behind her back. In her early twenties, Katherina is a drone pilot for the 79th Brigade of the Ukrainian Army. “I enlisted in December, just a few weeks after the war broke out. Before, I was in the police », she says sitting in a bar in Kurakhove, in the Donetsk region. Then, during her training, Katherina learns to use drones. And she becomes the best of her class. “I fell in love with drone driving because I understood that they are very important for pinpointing positions and setting fire,” she explains. An important role not only for defence, but also for attack – video

Crimea, so Kiev's drones dodge the attack Crimea, so Kiev's drones dodge the attack

THE TIME SHE WAS INJURED – He says he has never lost a drone during these months of battle. «The first time I flew one I was terrified, I felt the responsibility. I know that these are devices that cost thousands of euros». Then, as the weeks went by, the pilot also realized how dangerous her job is. “You must often be ready to run away very quickly. I was injured once during one of these escapes, but fortunately not seriously.'

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And while the Russians attack Kiev and the rest of the country with kamikaze drones, Katherina explains how much these unmanned aircraft are now becoming essential for the outcome of the battle. “Without drones it is as if the army is blind. Also, when used in attack mode, they allow you to strike without the risk of losing a pilot and crew. Quite an advantage.' She cannot speak of the models supplied to the Ukrainian army by the allies, 'but they are cutting-edge and particularly effective', she underlines.

The drone arrives, the Russian soldier throws himself into the water - video

IT IS IMPORTANT TO CARRY YOUR OWN BACKPACK - Being a woman in an army created, conceived and commanded with a male approach is not easy. After the first months during which 'colleagues tried to protect me by seeing me smaller', Katherina learns that if you want to survive you have to make yourself respected. “Every time someone offered to carry my backpack or lift weights for me, I got angry. 'I'm a soldier like you', I always said to those who tried to help me, even if they were doing it in good faith. However, after some time it was no longer necessary and I managed to assert myself ».
Once this obstacle was overcome, Katherina was also given a nom de guerre, Runa, Victory. «I am particularly proud of her, she represents strength and courage».

Forty missiles and sixteen kamikaze drones over Ukraine. One and a half million people without electricity  - guard

On his bulletproof vest, attached with Velcro, also the image of a blonde girl with a crown of red flowers on her head. 'And the battle witch , the witch of battle, who protects me». Then, a hand-made puppet in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, yellow and blue, a gift from the mother and the family originally from Dnipro. “At first my parents were very frightened by my decision to enlist, then they understood that for me it was a way of fulfilling myself. And they have accepted that, for now, this is my priority. Don't marry me or have children.'

BETTER NOT BE CAUGHT ALIVE – Are you ever afraid? 'Yes, like everyone. But I learned to control it, not to get overwhelmed. What if she were to be caught? The stories of so many Ukrainian servicemen taken by the Russians and then released in prisoner exchanges are terrible. 'I don't think about suicide. But surely it is better, if one is to be taken, not to be taken alive.' Answer from Katherina, a drone pilot at just 26 years old.