“Ghost Of Kyiv” Soldier Has Died Over Fiery Air Shelling Against Russia

According to Ukrainian authorities, the famed ‘Ghost of Kyiv‘ fighter pilot who shot down more than 40 Russian planes perished in action last month. Major Stepan Tarabalka, a 29-year-old father of one, was engaging ‘overwhelming’ enemy forces when his MiG-29 was shot down on March 13. After shooting down six planes from Russia on the first day of the invasion, he soon acquired worldwide celebrity, with Ukrainian authorities tweeting a video of the claims.

However, speculation has emerged that the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ and his incredible murder total were created by the Ukrainian government to promote bravery among their stubborn warriors. On the first day of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Twitter was ablaze with footage purporting to show a Ukrainian jet soaring through the skies over multiple cities and dogfighting with six Kremlin planes.

Major Stepan Tara Balka, 29, a father of one, wasn’t flying a MiG-29 when it was shot down on March 13 battling ‘overwhelming’ enemy forces.

One of the videos, which received nearly 5 million views, was quickly debunked as a clip from the 2008 videogame Digital Combat Simulator, with a Reuters Fact Check conclusion. “A vertical video shared online does not show a Ukrainian fighter jet shooting down a Russia sent plane, but comes from the videogame DCS.” The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense afterwards sent a video on the government’s Twitter account glorifying the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’s talent and bravery, but it used the same bogus footage.

The narrative looked to Hollywood to be true to most online sleuths. Sources have now confirmed his name and death to The New York Times. His helmet and goggles are set to be auctioned off in London soon. ‘People call him the Ghost of Kyiv,’ the Ukrainian authorities claimed after his debut victory. And rightly so: this UAF [Ukrainian Air Force] ace rules the skies over our city and country, and has already turned invading planes from Russia into a nightmare.’ He was posthumously granted the country’s highest military honor, the Order of the Golden Star, as well as the title of Hero of Ukraine.

Two days before his death, Ukraine’s General Staff shared this photo of the legendary fighter sitting in the cockpit.

Ukraine’s General Staff posted a photo of the renowned fighter sitting in the cockpit two days before his demise. ‘Hello, occupier, I’m coming for your soul!’ they captioned it. Tarabalka was born into a working-class family in the western Ukrainian hamlet of Korolivka. He studied at Kharkiv National University of the Air Force and is survived by his wife Olenia and eight-year-old son Yarik. According to local reports, he is personally responsible for downing at least 40 planes from Russia.

Speculation grew that he was a Ukrainian myth designed to inspire bravery in the ranks of their defiant fighters.

His mother, Nahtalia, said he used to dream of being a fighter pilot as he watched MiG fighters fly over their house. ‘He would always keep an eye on the paratroopers throughout their flying manoeuvres,’ she claimed. And he’d dash in their direction, trying to figure out where they’d fallen. He had always dreamt of flying higher than the clouds since he was a boy.’ Once he was qualified, he would fly over their village on a regular basis, tilting the wings of his aircraft in tribute to the family.