The Ghost of Kyiv

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, they came with an estimated 190,000 troops across Ukraine’s border with Russia. Minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the Russian invasion, Russian aircraft from Belarus struck the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. The Russians had launched a northern front across the border with Belarus. The target of the north front was Kyiv, and Russian forces were trying to break the will of Ukraine’s people and its armed forces. But stories began to spread about a mystery jet fighter that had fought seemingly for days in skies above Kyiv, downing at least six Russian fighters, maybe more. The mystery pilot became known as “The Ghost of Kyiv,” Though it was later found to be nothing more than a story, it inspired the Ukrainians to fight off the attack on their capital and defeat the Russian offensive. Russia’s northern push from Belarus was an estimated 30,000 strong, with hundreds of attack helicopters, ground vehicles, airborne assault units, not to mention Spetsnaz special forces. The only thing keeping them from capturing Kyiv and forcing an early end to the unjust invasion was 18,000 irregular Ukrainians and what air forces Ukraine could muster. The opening days of the Russian invasion were very grim for Ukraine. 


Stories about Ukrainian fighter pilots who relentlessly attacked Russian forces in the air and on the ground began circulating almost immediately. Videos circulated on social media of fighters in dogfights in the skies over and around the city. One of the jets, a MiG-29 Fulcrum, was said to be piloted by a man who had downed six Russian fighters within 30 hours of the invasion. No one knew who he was, except that he was dubbed “The Ghost of Kyiv.”

If he were real, the Ghost would have been the first fighter ace of the 21st Century, a heroic stand for a country fighting for its life against overwhelming odds. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said the pilot was one of the reservists who had answered his country’s call to arms but could not confirm his name, though they did confirm six Russian planes had been shot down. 

Soon, the number of aerial victories attributed to the Ghost of Kyiv jumped to 10, and the mystery pilot had captured the attention of the rest of the world, from Detroit to Donbas. Ukraine began to share photos of the mystery pilot in the cockpit, helmet on, claiming it was the Ghost himself. But the Ghost of Kyiv, it turns out, wasn’t real. 

Ukraine Admitted the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ Isn’t Real

As world media worked to uncover the identity of the mystery pilot and routinely came up short, they began to speculate that it was a myth. By the end of April 2022, Ukraine admitted the Ghost of Kyiv wasn’t real but was made up as “a superhero-legend, whose character was created by Ukrainians… [he] embodies the collective spirit of the highly qualified pilots.” 

Although the downed aircraft were real, the Ukrainians created the Ghost of Kyiv to raise morale at a time when Ukrainian defenders needed it the most. They were right. Ukrainians fighting for their freedom and abroad shared the story of the Ghost of Kyiv, giving a major morale boost to the resistance against the Russian invasion

Although the Russian invasion was initially successful, the attack on Kyiv quickly turned into a stalemate. Ukrainian reservists flocked to the city’s defense, inflicting heavy losses on the Russians and forcing them to withdraw. By April 2022, the Russians were cleared from Kyiv Oblast, and by September, the front was united in the south, far from the Ukrainian capital. 

Read About Other Military Myths and Legends

If you enjoyed learning about the Ghost of Kyiv, we invite you to read about other military myths and legends on our blog. You will also find military book reviews, veterans’ service reflections, famous military units and more on the blog.  If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on today.


Tags: air forces Ukraine, famous military units, Ghost of Kyiv jumped to 10, MiG-29 Fulcrum, military book reviews, Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Russia's northern push from Belarus, Russian invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russians were cleared from Kyiv Oblast, The Ghost of Kyiv,, Ukraine admitted the Ghost of Kyiv wasn't real, Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, veterans’ service reflections

1 Comment

  1. Philip D Horn

    Loved the story of The ghost of Kyiv!🛩️🛩️🛩️🇺🇦🇺🇦Whatever those poor defenseless people need to bring up their spirits and fight like hell for their country!! God Bless them all!💛💙💛💙💛


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *