The Ghost of Kyiv, A Story of Ukrainian Resistance


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Russian missile fire illuminates Kyiv against the early morning sky. Mothers frantically pull their children towards evacuation vehicles bound for Poland. Husbands kiss their wives goodbye. Armed civilians, old and young, crowd the streets. People are crying. Shouting. Buildings are crumbling around them. 

And then…something new.

A plane emerges from the smog and shoots across the sky.

This specific plane- a Soviet-era Mig-29 fighter jet- went viral following a series of videos posted to Twitter. The videos are not real. But they depict a lone Ukrainian fighter jet flying over the capital. The pilot, whether he exists or not, is being referred to as the “Ghost of Kyiv.”

The Ghost is the subject of the first urban legend emerging from the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The mysterious pilot has supposedly downed as many as six Russian planes within the conflict’s first 24 hours. The Ghost has captivated the world’s attention; many are hailing the pilot a hero, claiming that he or she is the “first European Ace since World War II.”   

Early Friday afternoon, former Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, tweeted a photo of a masked pilot flashing the camera a thumbs-up. His attached caption, translated to English, reads: “In the image, we have the MiG-29 pilot known as ‘The Ghost of Kyiv.’ He terrorizes enemies and makes the Ukrainian people proud. He’s got six wins over Russian pilots! With such powerful defenders, Ukraine will definitely win!” Regardless of the Ghost’s sudden fame, Ukrainian authorities have not yet confirmed nor denied his existence.

So is the Ghost of Kyiv real or a legend? Well…that’s not the point. 

Realistically, the story is pretty far-fetched. Air-to-air kills are relatively rare in modern warfare and it’s bold to assume that a soviet-era plane was capable of doing so six times in a single day for the first time since 1940. More likely than not, the Ghost is merely an ingenious use of propaganda.

But that doesn’t make the story any less real. 

The Ghost is a symbol of hope. Of defiance. Of resistance. Of freedom.

Regardless of whether or not the reports are true, one Twitter user commented that “this is EXACTLY the kind of inspiring story the resistance needs right now.”

Every conflict has its heroes, its stories, its legends, real or not, that compel others towards acts of valor. Achilles. Joan of Arc. Davy Crockett. Hundreds of stories shroud the reality of these figures; where does fact end and legend begin? Again, that’s not the point. In times of war, people need something to personify hope. 

War is banging on Ukraine’s door. The hinges are bending, the wood splintering. 44 million people are about to have their lives collapse on top of them. They’re in desperate need of something, anything, to provide them with even the slightest glimmer of hope. 

So maybe the Ghost is real. Maybe he isn’t. Does it really matter? Right now, Ukraine needs something to hold onto; it needs something to symbolize a brighter tomorrow. And maybe, just maybe, that symbol is an old fighter jet and its pilot.

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Amelia Underhill is a student of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at The King's College in New York City. She's passionate about the First Amendment, free markets, and Ronald Reagan.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Amelia Underhill

Amelia Underhill is a student of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at The King's College in New York City. She's passionate about the First Amendment, free markets, and Ronald Reagan.

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