The Ukrainian fighter pilot previously known only as the “Ghost of Kyiv” reportedly died in combat against Russian forces last month:
A fighter pilot known as the Ghost of Kyiv died in an air battle last month after allegedly shooting down more than 40 Russian aircraft, it can be revealed https://t.co/W0J6OwL9Bf
— Larisa Brown (@larisamlbrown) April 29, 2022
He was identified as “Major Stepan Tarabalka, 29, a father of one:
— New York Post (@nypost) April 29, 2022
And the Times of London reported that he died on March 13:
A fighter pilot known as the Ghost of Kyiv died in an air battle last month after allegedly shooting down more than 40 Russian aircraft, it can be revealed.
Major Stepan Tarabalka, 29, a father of one, was killed when the MiG-29 he was flying was shot down on March 13 while fighting “overwhelming” enemy forces, according to local reports.
According to reports from Ukrainian media sources, Major Tarabalka shot down almost 50 Russian aircraft. This post is 3 days before his reported death in combat:
The “Ghost” plane of Kyiv has destroyed 49 Russian planes. pic.twitter.com/bXiJEAb8C1
— KyivPost (@KyivPost) March 10, 2022
But PolitiFact ruled on April 4 that there “has been nothing official to substantiate” the details on his alleged combat exploits:
While the story of the Ghost of Kyiv has been celebrated online as an example of Ukraine’s fierce defiance in the face of Russian aggression, there so far has been nothing official to substantiate its details. https://t.co/VSoufgEgfv
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) April 4, 2022
The Times also called the fake viral video of Major Tarabalka shooting down 6 Russian jets an “artist’s impression”:
“He shot to fame after the Ukrainian government tweeted a video showing an artist’s impression of the pilot, claiming he shot down six Russian aircraft on . . .”
That’s a pretty kind way to describe a hoax video. From PolitiFact:
The video shared on Facebook is a simulation that was created in the video game Digital Combat Simulator, a free online game. The stated goal is to “offer the most authentic and realistic simulation of military aircraft, tanks, ground vehicles and ships possible,” according to the DCS World website.
A person on YouTube with the username Comrade_Corb uploaded the short clip on Feb. 24.
“This footage is from DCS, but is nevertheless made out of respect for ‘The Ghost of Kiev,’” the video description said. “If he is real, may God be with him; if he is fake, I pray for more like ‘him.’”