Nikolai next to his car after a successful supplies run to the Ukrainian borderNikolai Nizalov

Nikolai Nizalov, a first year biology student at St Catharine’s College, has raised over £7,500 for his drone unit in Ukraine.

Nikolai left Cambridge for Ukraine during Lent term, returning to his childhood home with a car, supplies and equipment for the war effort.

Since then he has made the trip several more times, ferrying necessary supplies from England to the Ukrainian-Polish border, funded by his own savings and donations.

His current fundraiser is for his drone unit, a small group of nine volunteers. The unit has the ability to effectively operate ten heavy-lifting drones, allowing them to transport much needed supplies, such as blood and medicines, into areas closed to humanitarian efforts.

Each drone costs between £4,000-£6,000 pounds, not including additional specifications like thermal imaging. The unit currently has two operational drones, but hopes to fully equip themselves, an endeavour that is likely to cost around £150,000.


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Alongside the parts needed to assemble drones, each member of the volunteer unit needs to provide their own protective gear, weapons and equipment, all of which are expensive.

When asked about the significance of the fundraiser, Nikolai said, “The most direct way of helping Ukrainians is through donations and fundraisers.”

In a post he shared about the fundraiser on his Instagram, he also said “Any donations will not only help those in need in Ukraine right now, but also they will help me, and increase my chances of survival, as I have to also buy my own protective equipment.”

Nikolai and his unit have yet to complete any active missions, meaning they are ineligible for funding from the Ukrainian government, making fundraising even more vital.

Currently in the UK gathering supplies and organising a car, Nikolai is training to be a drone pilot, on a “very condensed course - you would ideally do this for a lot longer.” He has already completed a basic combat medicine course.

Nikolai plans to return to Ukraine at the end of the week, in anticipation of his unit being sent out on an active mission by the end of the month. This, however, relies on him and his unit raising the funds they need to equip themselves.

Nikolai asks that any donations are sent to his PayPal: Breakdowns of where these are spent, as well as more information, can be found on his Instagram @nikolai_nizalov

This article was updated on 14/4 at 9.35