Chinese drone maker DJI suspends business in Russia, Ukraine

Chinese drone maker DJI suspends business in Russia, Ukraine

Drone giant DJI Technology Co. said it would suspend business in Russia and Ukraine to make sure its products are not used in combat, making it the first major Chinese firm to cite the conflict in halting sales in Russia.

Ukrainian officials and citizens accused DJI of leaking data on the Ukrainian military to Russia — allegations that the world's largest maker of consumer and industrial drones has called utterly false. In line with Beijing's policy of not criticizing Moscow over the conflict, Chinese companies have stayed there, unlike the many Western firms that have pulled out of Russia to protest its invasion of Ukraine.

A DJI spokeswoman said that the suspension of business in Russia and Ukraine was not meant to make a statement about any country, but to make a statement about our principles.

We are temporarily suspending sales in these countries to make sure no-one uses our drones in combat, because DJI sabotages the use of our drones to cause harm. A company representative said last month DJI was aware of footage online that suggested Russian military was using its products, but it had not been able to confirm this, and the company had no control over the use of its products.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a special operation to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say this is a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.

Privately held DJI does not release financial information, but research firm Drone Analyst said it had hardware revenue of $2.9 billion in 2020.

The conflict has put Chinese companies in a bind. Continuing to operate in Russia has drawn international criticism, but withdrawing would risk a backlash from the Chinese public.

In February, ride-hailing giant Didi Global reversed a decision to leave Russia and Kazakhstan after domestic social media users accused it of succumbing to U.S. pressure.

Huawei Technologies, a maker of telecoms equipment, is under scrutiny over whether it plans to stay in Russia. The company did not take any Russia related questions at its annual analyst summit on Tuesday.