A special drone is about to take flight over Ukraine – a peace drone. The unmanned aircraft will monitor movements of pro-Russian separatists and Russian forces, working to ensure that they are living up to commitments made in the Sept. 5 Minsk ceasefire agreement (the so-called Minsk Protocol). If the drone’s operators like what they see through their eyes in the sky, the situation in Ukraine could begin to look a lot brighter in the months and years ahead.
“The UAVs will enhance existing monitoring capabilities in fulfillment of our mandate in Ukraine,” the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE’s, Chief Monitor Amb. Ertugrul Apakan said in a statement. “They will compliment what our monitors observe on the ground, which will still be our primary source of information gathering.”
The unarmed drone from Austrian UAV manufacturer Schiebel is called the Camcopter S-100. It takes two operators, has an ISR ceiling of 18,000 feet in international standard atmosphere conditions and, with normal payloads, a six-hour endurance.
The drone’s operators will be looking to verify that pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine and Russia are acting in accordance with the Minsk Protocol, and specifically that “illegal military formations, military equipment, as well as militants and mercenaries” leave Ukraine – all things that U.S. military and intelligence spyglasses have been monitoring already for months. Pro-Russian separatists now must open up corridors to allow humanitarian assistance flow in while refugees evacuate and separatist forces withdraw heavy Russian weapons from residential areas.