Ukraine posts photo of so-called ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ with death threat for Russian troops

Ukrainians hail the fabled figure as a ‘guardian angel’ – but doubts remain over whether he is real

Lamiat Sabin
Saturday 12 March 2022 19:17 GMT
Zelensky says Russian troops 'transitioned into new stage of terror'

Ukraine has shared a photo purporting to show the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ – who has been hailed as a “hero” for allegedly shooting down a vast number of Russia’s military aircraft.

A selfie of a fighter pilot sitting in an MiG-2 – also known as Fulcrum fighter jet – was posted online by the Ukrainian air force with a caption aimed at its Russian opponents.

It says: “Hello, occupier, I’m flying for your soul!”

In the photo, the pilot draws attention to one of the missiles attached to the jet by positioning his index finger and thumb around it – to make it appear he is holding its pointed end.

Debates are likely to continue over whether the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ has been fabricated by the Ukrainian government, or whether it is a role played by more than one person.

The picture is unlikely to dispel sceptics’ doubts because the pilot’s face is completely hidden by a helmet, visor, and breathing apparatus.

The fighter pilot’s face is completely obscured by his gear (Air Force Command of Ukrainian Armed Forces)

The ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ has shot down 49 Russian planes since Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, according to the Kyiv Post.

Many Ukrainians on social media have hailed the character as a “hero” and a “guardian angel” after hearing the stories of bravery and honour while Russian troops continue destroying Ukraine.

One commenter on Facebook said: “It’s been a long time since you were seen and heard, sir!!! You are the best of the best!!!!”

MiG-29 jets flying over Moscow (AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova)

Ukraine’s official Twitter account had labelled the character an “ace”, meaning he has shot down at least five aircraft. It has been claimed that the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ shot down six on the first day of the Russian invasion.

The government tweeted a video showing an artist’s impression of the pilot, adding: “People call him the Ghost of Kyiv.

“And rightly so – this UAF (Ukrainian Air Force) ace dominates the skies over our capital and country, and has already become a nightmare for invading Russian aircrafts.”

The ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ mystery had become more convoluted with the debunking of a meme that initially had led some people to believe that his face was being revealed.

It was then reported earlier this month that the face belonged to American comedian Sam Hyde – known for his involvement in internet hoaxes by having his features photoshopped onto photos.

His face had been superimposed on to the head of US Captain Seth Nehring in a photo of him sitting in a fighter jet.

Also, reports falsely claimed to show footage of the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ shooting down planes but were revealed to be relying on a clip from the simulation game Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) World.

Whether the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ is real or not, “the legend had an undeniably positive effect on the morale of the Ukrainian people in the early days of the war” – according to the Plane and Pilot website.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the US to allow the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland.

He told Washington that if the U.S. could not help with a no-fly zone over Ukraine, the least it could do is send more aircraft to help Ukraine defend against the Russian invasion.

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