Ukraine war: After Ghost of Kyiv, now 'Zaporizhzhia Avenger' sparks myth or reality 'superhero' debate
A 19-year-old Ukrainian soldier dubbed the 'Zaporizhzhia Avenger' has reportedly taken out six Russian jets using a mobile anti-air launcher.
Even as Vladimir Putin's forces continue to wage war on Ukraine, a 19-year-old soldier of the eastern European nation dubbed the 'Zaporizhzhia Avenger' has reportedly taken out six Russian jets using a mobile anti-air launcher.
A member of the National Guard, the Ukrainian soldier, is said to have shot down a Su-25 bomber in the Zaporizhzhia region on Sunday.
"The National Guard soldier... is protecting the Ukrainian sky in the Zaporizhzhya direction and mercilessly beats the enemy in the air with his faithful "girlfriend" PZRK Igla," a press release said, using the name for a Russian anti-air rocket launcher.
According to Ukrainian commanders, in addition to shooting down the six jets, the 'Avenger' has also taken down one Russian cruise missile.
According to local media, 'Avenger' started this rampage in May when he shot down three Su-25 planes in one month. As a result, he received the Hero of Ukraine designation, the greatest honour the president can confer. Since being created in 1998, the award has been handed to just 650 people.
"I will destroy [Russian jets] for as long as necessary - until our victory," the soldier told Ukrayinska Pravda back then.
Anton Gerashchenko, Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, shared photos of the 19-year-old on Twitter which has sparked a massive debate if his story is a myth or reality. Some users refered to the 'Ghost of Kyiv' legend as they reacted to the newly dubbed 'superhero'. Here's a look at some of the reactions:
It is far from the only story of bravery to come from the Ukrainian battlefields. A pilot is known as the 'Ghost of Kyiv' was credited with downing 10 Russian jets in three days back in February while defending the city.
Within 30 hours of the invasion, the double-ace is said to have flown a MiG-29 Fulcrum and downed two Su-35s, two Su-25s, a Su-27, and an iG-29.
Before the air force acknowledged the 'ghost' didn't exist, rumours about him continued for months, and the Security Service of Ukraine gave them some credence.
"The ghost of Kyiv is a superhero legend whose character was created by Ukrainians," the force said on its Facebook page. The pilot would have been the first ace of the twenty-first century if he had ever been.
Other heroic acts that have achieved almost mythic status include the Ukrainian marine who detonated himself while demolishing a bridge close to Kherson to fend off the Russians.
To prevent the Russians from deploying tanks across the Henichesky Bridge in the vicinity of Crimea, Vitaliy Volodymyrovych Skakun was entrusted with booby-trapping it.
He successfully attached explosives to the building, but he could not leave the detonation zone before Russian tanks arrived.
Skakun stated in his final communication to his allies that he would blow up the bridge, killing him but disabling the tanks.
And on Snake Island, a group of Ukrainian defence forces made history by instructing a Russian cruiser to "go f*** yourself" as it approached.
It was believed that the second strike killed all 18 soldiers on the island, but it was later discovered that they had been captured.
Roman Hrybov, who was heard saying the now-famous statement, was exchanged for other prisoners and sent back to Ukraine. He also received a medal for bravery.
The Moskva, the ship seen in the video giving the command, has now sunk, and the island has returned to Ukrainian sovereignty.