Ukrainians use Telegram chatbot to track and target Russian troops


Ukraine's government created a chatbot in the Telegram app to help Ukrainians track Russian troops.
Ukraine's government created a chatbot in the Telegram app to help Ukrainians track Russian troops.
Photo: Christian Wiediger/Unsplash

The government of Ukraine recently created a chatbot within the Telegram instant messaging app. It lets Ukrainians use their iPhones to report to their country’s defenders exactly where they see invading Russian troops.

Telegram chatbot helps Ukrainians track and target invading Russian troops

Back when the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, people noticed they could see the incursion happening in real time on Apple Maps and Google Maps. What’s different now is that the Ukrainian authorities are actually deploying personal technology very much on purpose to help in the war effort.

Toward that end, the Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation made a chatbot known as “eVororog” or “eBopor.” That translates to “e-Enemy.” Rather than taking the form of a separate app, it’s part of the popular instant messaging app Telegram.

That means Russia can’t so easily demand its removal from the App Store, which the country’s government has done with other politically sensitive apps.

The chatbot is an @everog_bot channel in Telegram. Ukrainian News said the country’s deputy prime minister, Mikhail Fedorov, wrote about it on his Telegram channel.

Tracking the ‘occupier’

“The team of the Ministry of Digital Development has created a chatbot in Telegram,” wrote Fedorov (in translation), “with the help of which Ukrainians can report the movement of the occupier.”

Fedorov suggested other attempts to gather the data may have occurred, but that false reports may have limited their utility. The Ministry distributed a free “Diya” app to authenticate users as Ukraine citizens.

“The main difference from other bots is authorization through the ‘Diya’ application,” Federov wrote “This is necessary to collect better information and so that saboteurs cannot spam fake photos or videos.

Include a photo or video

After a Ukrainian is authorized to post in the chatbot, they are prompted to enter exact details of what they witnessed. That includes details about troops or equipment such as tanks. Then users can send the exact location — and include a photo or video where possible — using their iPhones.

Ukrainian News has not yet reported on the chatbot’s effectiveness. But a Twitter source quoted unverified statistics claiming more than 200,000 Ukrainians have used the app, leading to the deaths of over 16,000 invaders and the destruction of 4,000 vehicles.

Many software developers are based in Ukraine, including Setapp creator MacPaw. Not long ago, it released a free app that checks for Russian hacks. You can read more about Ukrainian developers’ plights amid the conflict here.


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