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The Heroes and Legends of Ukraine

The Ghost of Kyiv, the 13 of Snake Island, the Klitschko brothers, and the Old Woman with the Sunflower Seeds

By Michael SnellenPublished about a year ago 5 min read
The Heroes and Legends of Ukraine
Photo by Eugene on Unsplash

Though we are still in the opening days of a likely long and harrowing war, I would like to take a moment to remember and to honor the stories of those who have emerged as heroes.

I dedicate this article to the Ukrainian stories of heroism, so that they may not be forgotten, and so that we may be reminded of what humans are capable of.

The 13 of Snake Island

Here we have a true story of bravery.

A small, 40 acre island off the coast of Crimea was a target for the Russians in the first day of the invasion. To their surprise, the island wouldn’t be taken with ease, as they thought it would.

On Snake Island, 13 Ukrainian soldiers defended the island till their last breath.

According to BBC:

“Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has awarded each of the guards the posthumous title of “Hero of Ukraine”.

“On our Zmiinyi Island, defending it to the last, all the border guards died heroically,” Mr Zelensky said.”

A viral clip of their words to the Russians who offered them surrender has made its way around the internet.

A strong Russian voice on the distorted radio said: “This is a Russian warship, I repeat. I suggest you surrender your weapons and capitulate. Otherwise, I will open fire. Do you copy?”

Two seconds later, on the radio transmission, a voice said: “This is it . . . Should I tell him to go f*ck himself?”

“Just in case,” another voice said.

Then, the volume is audible cranked up.

“Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”

That was the end of the clip. We know that the island was bombed both by air and sea afterwards. But from that moment on, the Russians learned that they would have to fight for every kilometer of ground.

The Ghost of Kyiv

As the Russian air force flew over the border of Ukraine, six of their planes were shot down by a Ukrainian ace.

The supposed pilot is unnamed, as of today, he may entirely be a legend, a rumor, nonetheless, his bravery in the skies has inspired the Ukrainians.

The pilot flies a Mikoyan MiG-29.

He is said to have shot down “two Su-35 Flankers, one Su-27 Flanker and one MiG-29 Fulcrum — as well as two ground-attack aircraft, so-called Su-25 Frogfoots,” according to the NY Post.

Right now, a lot of videos online apparently show the Ghost flying his plane. One of these videos has turned out to be from a video game. The others are disputed.

Nonetheless, the Ghost has become a modern day folk legend.

If confirmed, if true, the Ghost would become the 21st century’s first ace.

The Klitschko Brothers

Vitali Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion, with a 45–2 record, became the mayor of Kyiv in 2014.

On January 13th, 2022, Klitschko told CNN that “If escalation goes up … We have to be ready to defend our independence and integrity of our country (…).”

His brother Wladimir Klitscko, also a Hall of Fame boxer, with a 64–5 record, joined the army reserves last month as the Russian threat loomed.

Today, both brothers have stood by their word. They have taken up arms to fight against the Russian invaders.

ESPN reported:

“It’s already a bloody war,” (Vitali) Klitschko, a Hall of Fame boxer, said Thursday on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain.” “… I don’t have another choice. I have to do that. I would fight.”


Wladimir Klitschko wrote on Linkedin on Thursday. “Words are followed by missiles and tanks. Destruction and death come upon us. … We will defend ourselves with all our might and fight for freedom and democracy.”

Vitali Klitschko is not just a mayor, he is a defender of his city. While both men were good boxers, they are undoubtedly great men. They are living heroes in the Ukrainian ranks.

The Old Woman with the Sunflower Seeds

On the first day of the invasion of Ukraine, as the Russian soldiers made their way into the towns on the border, one soldier was met by an old woman.

“Who are you?” she, the babushka in black with white hair, asked

The soldier, wearing his camouflage armor and holding his rifle, replied: “We have exercises here. Please go this way.”

“What kind of exercises? Are you Russian?”


“So what the fuck are you doing here?” the woman asked.

“Right now, our discussion will lead to nothing.”

Passionately, the women then said: “You’re occupants, you’re fascists!” What the f*ck are you doing on our land with all these guns?” She reached in her pocket and then raised her hand. “Take these seeds and put them in your pockets, so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.”

“Right now,” the soldier said sternly, “our discussion will lead nowhere. Let’s not escalate this situation. Please.”

“What situation? Guys, guys. Put the sunflower seeds in your pockets, please,” she said as she pointed at him. “You will lie down here with the seeds. You came to my land. Do you understand? You are occupiers. You are enemies.”


“And from this moment, you are cursed. I am telling you.”

“Now listen to me — ”

“I’ve heard you,” the old woman interrupted.

“Let’s not escalate the situation. Please go this way.”

“How can it be further escalated? You f*cking came here uninvited. Pieces of sh*t.”

It is not known what happened to the lady after she said that. The video ended, as whoever recorded it walked away.

The sunflower seeds she ominously tried to give to the soldier were offered because the sunflower is the Ukrainian national flower.

Hope for an End to War

The horrible thing about war is that the innocent become victims. Thousands of soldiers are demanded to kill people that they don’t hate. Unimaginable numbers of people die for the few.

As I write this, Kyiv is under siege and many are likely at their time of death. May the Ukranians hold onto courage so that they may not be frightened by bombs. May God be with them. May their suffering serve as a reminder to all us that peace is what should be strived for.

The beauty of war, the only beauty of it, is that the depths of the human spirit, not usually seen, are shown in full brightness amidst total darkness. The heroes of Ukraine remind us that there are heroes. Let us never forget them.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell


About the Creator

Michael Snellen

An audacious young writer.

email: [email protected]

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