Ukraine’s fighting spirit needs no myth to represent it


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

The world fawned over the Ghost of Kyiv, when it should have focused on the unstoppable determination of the real heroes in this war. Ukraine’s fighting spirit needs no introduction, by a made-up character.

Amidst the catastrophic Russia-Ukraine war, a hero was born of myth and false accomplishments, to bolster Ukrainian spirits. On Feb. 24 the Ghost of Kyiv was conceived, after claims of a fighter pilot shooting down six Russian jets. There is no doubt that Ukraine, the underdog in this conflict, is giving Russia heavy losses. However, why pin this on a fictional character with outrageous claims, rather than accredit the true heroes of the skies — the Ukrainian pilots, up there fighting for their country?

This myth was spread through social media, television, news broadcasts and other media. The intent was to raise Ukrainians’ spirits and symbolize the heroism of their pilots. In any war, propaganda and morale are key to maintaining determination. 

While it did just that, to learn that the Ghost of Kyiv did not exist in the first place is just as destructive to morale as it was constructive in the beginning. Their famous hero, hope, and symbol: a complete lie. The Ukrainian government upheld the lie, posting on social media a picture from three years ago, claiming it to be the Ghost of Kyiv. The Ukrainian government built hope, then dismantled it, after having knowingly promoted false information. 

Instead of supporting their country with a lie, they should have commended their real pilots, patriots and warriors for freedom. A symbol is intangible, but the Ukrainian air force and other military forces are very real superpowers, ones the citizens can support. Ukraine reports that the Russians suffered 6,000 more military casualties, as of May 22.

With an upset like this, a smaller country holding off a world superpower, Ukraine has more than enough to tout its uplifting accomplishments in the face of war. Nobody wins in war, but Russia is definitely losing militarily. 

Ukraine isn’t the only one punishing Russia for its invasion. Russia’s actions have been internationally declared a war of aggression, whereby conflict is initiated not with the aim of self-defense. They have also been kicked out of the Council of Europe, ordered by the International Court of Justice to cease operations and heavily sanctioned by 29 countries. Russia now faces an expected 30-year setback for its economy.

Ukraine has more than just its own efforts to post about, to boost morale. Most of the world is on their side, providing financial, medicinal and military aid. In 2014, the United States pledged $1 billion in aid to Ukraine. NATO member states also agreed to supply resources.

The Ghost of Kyiv may not be real, but the Ukrainian fighting spirit is. The citizens, businesses and farmers are all joining the effort, sabotaging Russian equipment and providing aid and relief. No myth is needed to represent these heroes; they represent themselves quite well.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a speech on Mar. 8, and his words embody what it means to be Ukrainian right now, to fight for their freedom. Zelenskyy said, “We will fight until the end, at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.”