While many knew that a number of incredible stories coming out of Ukraine early on in the Russian invasion were nothing more than propaganda to keep morale boosted among the country’s military and citizenry, one of the most impactful mysteries was debunked by the Ukrainian military this week.
According to the Washington Examiner — unfortunately, because it’s such an awesome story — the “Ghost of Kyiv” is a myth, according to Ukrainian officials.
The Ghost of Kyiv story emerged early on, and was reported to be a mystery Ukrainian Air Force pilot who had managed to down a number of Russian helicopters and fighter jets. Several videos of fighter jets flying over the skies of Ukraine went viral on social media, as people claimed in each one that it was the Ghost of Kyiv watching over them.
“Ghost of Kyiv is a superhero-legend whose character was created by Ukrainians!” the Ukrainian military said on Saturday. “This is rather a collective image of the pilots of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade defending the sky of the capital. Which suddenly appear where they are not expected.”
‘Ghost of Kyiv’ never existed. Ukraine now admits it was invented to boost morale. Strange how no orgs ‘fighting disinformation’ interrogated it.
Almost like whole US-UK ‘disinformation’ programme is actually just another form of information warfare. https://t.co/ywQGTGfyRz
— Matt Kennard (@kennardmatt) May 1, 2022
A man known as Major Stepan Tarabalka, a 29-year-old father of one in the Ukrainian Air Force who had been shot down, was rumored to be the actual, authentic “Ghost,” but the Ukrainian Air Force shoot down the rumors immediately.
The man, who died on March 13, was “heroically killed in an air battle with the dominant forces of the Russian occupiers,” the country’s Air Force said, stressing he was a “hero,” but was “NOT ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ and he did NOT hit 40 planes.”
According to social media posts, many people still believe that Tarabalka — or someone in the Ukrainian military — had accomplished the fantastic tales being told about the “Ghost of Kyiv.”
Either way, the myth clearly served its purpose to some degree, as Russia, over three months into its invasion of Ukraine, still hasn’t managed to established 100% air superiority, which was expected to originally happen within a matter of days at the start of the invasion.