Helping to restore justice: Culver Aerospace completes first stage of digitization of destruction as part of "russia will pay" project

Helping to restore justice: Culver Aerospace completes the first stage of digitizing destruction as part of the "russia will pay" project

Culver Aerospace is pleased to announce the successful completion of digitization of the war-related destruction in Ukraine in Kherson, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Mykolaiv regions as part of the "russia will pay" project. This initiative was launched by the KSE Institute team together with the Office of the President and the Ministry of Economy and with the support of UNDP Ukraine in March 2022 and aims to create the most complete list of all the destruction caused by the war that russia has waged against Ukraine.

According to the latest data from the "russia will pay" project experts, as of January 2024, the total amount of direct documented damage to Ukraine's infrastructure caused by russia's full-scale invasion reached almost $155 billion. 
In 2023, the project participants digitized 370 settlements, of which almost 70% were processed by the Culver Aerospace team.  Thus, during the year of participation in the program, the company's specialists researched and digitized 251 settlements in 5 de-occupied regions of Ukraine, with a total area of almost 100 thousand hectares.  

The project was implemented by a team of 12 UAV operators and 8 specialists from Culver Aerospace's GIS department. According to the research methodology developed by the KSE Institute, the orthophotomaps of the area and all objects on them were analyzed by the level of destruction on a 5-point scale (where 1 means no visible damage and 5 means destroyed). The data collected and processed by Culver Aerospace was handed over to colleagues from the KSE Institute, who will use independent methodologies to assess the amount of damage to the infrastructure. This information will be used to calculate the damage to communities as a result of the war. It will become an important element of the evidence base of crimes committed by russia in Ukraine, as well as the basis for filing lawsuits against the aggressor. It will also help to attract funding for the reconstruction of the affected regions to restore damaged homes and critical infrastructure as soon as possible. 

To monitor destroyed and damaged facilities under the "russia will pay" project Culver Aerospace uses the Skif UAV, a self-developed flying wing drone. During one shift, one aircraft can cover an area of up to 1,000 hectares, and a modern navigation system and a 61-megapixel camera allow for images with a resolution of up to 1 cm per pixel. 

While working on the project, Culver Aerospace specialists faced many difficulties associated with working in areas where active hostilities had recently been taking place. The aerial monitoring had to be carried out in the context of electronic warfare and flight bans related to air raids and military operations. Most of the work was carried out in areas potentially mined and contaminated with explosive remnants of war. Since the data collection was carried out until December 2023, aerial photography was carried out even in strong winds and cloudy weather, which was made possible only thanks to the technical characteristics of the Skif UAV and its resistance to various weather conditions. 

The GIS department also had to make considerable efforts to obtain a high-quality result. The processing of orthophotomaps obtained under the influence of the EW was particularly complicated. As specialists were allowed to monitor the damaged areas after a certain period, some communities had already started rebuilding the affected buildings and infrastructure, which required additional workload from the GIS department staff due to the need to compare them with archived satellite data and other publicly available information. 

Due to the large volume and complexity of the UAV operators' work, as well as the impact of weather factors, some of the settlements could not be covered by just one flight mission, which also required professionalism and additional time from the company's specialists. The same was true for the specifics of image processing in wartime and heightened security measures.

The "russia will pay" project is ongoing. The nearest plans include digitization of the destroyed infrastructure of Zaporizhzhia and the rest of Kherson regions, which, unfortunately, are not yet available for research. We are proud of our colleagues who showed courage and professionalism in collecting the necessary data. Not only do they demonstrate a high level of commitment, but they are also a testament to the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people in their fight for justice. 
Our goal is to provide a comprehensive damage analysis so that the recovery is fair and inclusive and allows for the reparation and rebuilding of every community affected by the war.

The contribution of the Culver Aerospace team not only demonstrates the importance of innovative technology in documenting war crimes but also underscores Ukraine's determination to seek justice and speedy recovery.

"Our team is very proud of its participation in the "russia will pay" project. Our colleagues have demonstrated incredible dedication and courage working in extreme conditions. Despite numerous challenges, all team members showed adaptability and professionalism, which allowed us to successfully collect and analyze a huge amount of data. This will not only help document the damage and contribute to Ukraine's recovery but will also be a key factor in bringing the aggressor to justice. 

I am proud to contribute to this cause and feel a deep responsibility to everyone who suffered from this war. The possibility of restoring justice, including through our work, is my main inspiration," says Yulia Dolgova, Senior GIS Specialist at Culver Aerospace, sharing her impressions of participating in the "russia will pay" project.