Czech company says Russia obtained its drone components via third parties

The Czech company AXI Model Motors stated on Aug. 3 that it has "never supplied its products to the military," after a Ukrainian soldier found a component it had manufactured inside a Russian drone.

The soldier shared photos on Aug. 2 of the Russian Lancet drone, that he said had been downed near Bakhmut. The words "Made in the Czech Republic" and the AXI Model Motors logo are visible on the motor.

The Lancet drone is a type of UAV regularly used by the Russian military for both reconnaissance and strikes.

In response, Model Motors stated that its "products have been misused by a third party in abroad for sale into some of the types of weapons he uses Russian army," and that steps have been taken to ensure this can no longer happen.

The component in question is no longer manufactured, the company clarified.

AXI Model Motors added that "our company fully supports Ukraine in its struggle for freedom."

The Prague-based newspaper Deník N reported on Aug. 3 that the Czech authorities have been aware of instances of Czech-made engines being found inside Russian drones for over a year.

The intelligence services visited the owners of Model Motors at the start of the full-scale invasion and continue to investigate how their components end up in the hands of the Russian military, according to the report.

There is no information that the company supplied the motors directly to Russia, but rather, "companies from China, Taiwan and one eastern country from the former Soviet Union" purchased the components before February 2022, according to Deník N. The newspaper points to Kyrgyzstan as the likely "eastern country"

According to the Washington Post, records show a huge increase in the trade in parts for drones, aircraft, and bombs to Russia by Kyrgyz firms. Several Kyrgyz companies that were suspected of helping Russia bypass sanctions were sanctioned by the U.S. on July 20.

"We have been dealing with the whole situation for a long time with the authorities involved in order to uncover the path by which the engines got to Russia," Motor Models told Deník N.

Prigozhin-linked firms receive state contracts after Wagner rebellion

Companies associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin signed state contracts worth at least 2 billion rubles (up to $21 million) within a month after his Wagner Group rebellion, the Russian independent outlet Agentstvo reported on Aug. 3.

Based on the state contracts of 17 companies, the outlet concluded that the largest contracts the Prigozhin-connected firms received concerned meals for schoolchildren. This included 705 million rubles ($7.5 million) for the "Social Nutrition" Center, 935 million rubles ($10 million) for Prodfoodservice, and 260 million rubles ($2.8 million) for Preschool Nutrition Combine.

According to Agentstvo, military related-contracts, such as meals for soldiers, remain classified. However, the continued financial support for Prigozhin-connected firms could indicate that Moscow keeps financing the Wagner Group's activities in Africa, the journalists concluded.

The Wagner Group's founder launched an armed rebellion against the Russian government on June 23. His mercenaries occupied the city of Rostov and marched on Moscow, only to abruptly end the insurrection on June 24.

After a deal brokered between the government and Prigozhin, Putin announced that Wagner mercenaries will be allowed to leave for Belarus or sign contracts with the regular military.

However, Prigozhin was seen back in Russia in late July on the sidelines of the Africa-Russia Summit in St. Petersburg. At the same time, his Wagner contractors began arriving in Belarus, providing training support to the Belarusian military.

The U.K. Defense Ministry said that Wagner is also expanding its activities in Africa.

On July 27, Putin claimed that the Wagner Group was "fully financed by the state," adding that between May 2022 and May 2023, it received over 86 billion rubles ($910 million) from the state's budget.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Prigozhin-linked companies have received contracts for more than 400 billion rubles (over $4.2 billion) between 2014-2022.

Russian struck against Kherson and injured 8, including four emergency workers

Four workers of the State Emergency Service were injured by a Russian strike in Kherson while putting out a fire at the St. Catherine's Cathedral, caused by a previous attack, Aug. 3, 2023. (Source: Interior Ministry/Telegram)

Russian strikes against Kherson on Aug. 3 injured at least eight people, including four employees of the State Emergency Service, the Prosecutor General's Office reported.

The four emergency workers were injured in a Russian strike while they were putting out a fire caused by a previous attack, the Interior Ministry informed.

"During the liquidation of a fire caused by a Russian strike against the St. Catherine's Cathedral, another attack took place," the ministry wrote on its Telegram channel.

"Four employees of the State Emergency Service were injured. All of them are hospitalized, they are provided with the necessary assistance," the ministry said, adding that the Emergency Service's equipment was also damaged.

In another attack, Russian artillery hit a trolleybus in the city at around 7 a.m. Three of its passengers and one passerby were injured in the shelling, according to the prosecutors.

The information on the full number of victims of the morning attacks is being verified, the General Prosecutor's Office said.

On Aug. 1, Russian forces hit a hospital in Kherson, killing a doctor and injuring five other members of the medical staff, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported.