“I tracked them on a drone,” he said. “They were in my picture.”
Andrii Pokrasa is being hailed as a hero in Ukraine, known to the public as “Drone Boy,” after he helped a crucial Ukrainian military operation using his drone.
Andrii, 15, helped by his father, put his life in danger and sent the Ukrainian military the coordinates of advancing Russian forces during the early days of the war.
The war in Ukraine, which has raged on for six months, has had a particularly brutal effect on children.
Nearly 1,000 children have been killed or injured during the war, UNICEF estimates, and more than 5 million Ukrainian children both in the country and living as refugees abroad are in need of humanitarian aid.
“My mother was very scared at first,” Andrii told ABC News reporter Britt Clennett. “But now she is proud that we did well, that we are healthy and that we were able to help.
Andrii said that they posted in a local village group that they had a drone, and that Andrii knew how to operate it. A man named Yuri Kasyanov from the civil defense forces responded to their post, Andrii told ABC News, adding that “he didn’t know that I’m 15.”
Andrii was asked to use his drone to spy on advancing Russian vehicles in Makariv, a village near his own village of Kolonschyna, in the outskirts of Kiev.
“There were fuel trucks, tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers,” he said. “I tracked them on a drone, they were in my picture. And then I opened the tab with the map on the drone and put a mark on it and the coordinates appeared there.”
Andrii said he passed the coordinates to Kasyanov, who passed them on to the Ukrainian artillery. The artillery decimated the column of Russian tanks within minutes.
They were near enough to an explosion related to the attack that they had to evacuate the area, he said.
“Yuri organized a green corridor for us – a convoy,” he said. “We went through this field to the Zhytomyr highway that had already been liberated by that time.”
Andrii said his friends didn’t believe him at first when he recounted his story of helping to defeat Russian forces, but then they saw him on TV.
“My friends are very happy that everything turned out and I am fine,” he said. “I had to help because I could.”