The Ukraine government clarifies the legend of the "Ghost of Kyiv" as nationalist propaganda to keep Ukrainians' spirits high amidst the devastating Russian invasion.
One of the more popular stories to arise from the Russian invasion of Ukraine was th "Ghost of Kyiv," now labeled a wartime myth by the Ukrainian government itself. Because it is a legend, its origins cannot be fully determined.
According to NBC News, the "Ghost of Kyiv" story became even more popular when former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took to Twitter to share an image of a masked fighter pilot who reportedly shot down up to six Russian jets just as their invasion of Ukraine began. The legend was fueled a month later when the Ukrainian Defense Ministry in March shared on Twitter a video praising Major Stepan Tarabalka, who died in an aerial combat against the Russian forces and was awarded a posthumous medal for courage.
People began to refer to Tarabalka as the "Ghost of Kyiv" and the myth came to life. But last weekend, the Ukrainian Air Force Command took to Facebook to clarify that Tarabalka was not the ghost and he did not destroy 40 enemy aircraft. Instead, it said that the "Ghost of Kyiv" was really a "superhero legend whose character was created by Ukrainians."
"The #GhostOfKyiv is alive, it embodies the collective spirit of the highly qualified pilots of the Tactical Aviation Brigade who are successfully defending #Kyiv and the region," the Ukrainian Air Force explained on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian military historian Mikhail Zhirohov explained to the BBC that the "Ghost of Kyiv" was simply "propaganda for raising morale." Zhirohov admitted, "It's essential to have this propaganda, because our armed forces are smaller, and many think we can't be equal to them [the Russians]. We need this in wartime."
This dispelled anti-war skeptics who suspected that the "Ghost of Kyiv" legend was "disinformation," the National Pulse reported. These same skeptics were labeled "Putinistas" for not believing in the "Ghost of Kyiv."
But for William Alberque, who serves as the director of strategy, technology and arms control for the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, he believes that the "Ghost of Kyiv" was created to boost Ukrainians morale amid the Russian invasion. He called it a "smart move" to have a "rallying call," adding that it was designed "purely for internal messaging for Ukrainians to rally behind the flag."
Alberque added that the facts were hard to verify. Additionally, the very existence of the "Ghost of Kyiv" adn its body count actually raises doubts as to whether Ukraine had been overestimating its gains in the aerial battlefield, in which Russia should be more superior. Ukraine claims to have destroyed up to 187 Russian planes, but independent monitor Oryx said it only found evidence for 26.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine continued and on day 69, Russia's military continued its assault on Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv, as well as several towns in eastern Ukraine, Al Jazeera reported. Meanwhile, in the city of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region on the country's eastern side, at least three civilians were killed. Russia intends to "annex" two eastern regions of Ukraine after it failed to overthrow the government in Kyiv.