The ‘Ghosts of Bakhmut’ Ukrainian sniper unit have killed over 550 Russians (PIcture: Ghost of Bakhmut)
An elite Ukrainian sniper who claims to have killed 113 Russian soldiers in nine months is hunting high-profile targets in Donbas.
The ‘Ghosts of Bakhmut’, an elite unit composed of a few dozen highly-trained soldiers, have also claimed to have killed an additional 558 Russian soldiers in the same period of time.
‘It’s nothing like American films that romanticise the work of snipers and show it as very glamorous,’ their commander, who goes by the call sign Ghost, told Insider.
‘We work 24 hours a day, we don’t differentiate between day or night. There are no weekends,’ he added. ‘You’re totally exhausted, all the juices are squeezed out of you, and when you come back from a mission, you’re a complete mess.’
The group’s commander, known as Ghost, claims to have personally killed 113 high-profile targets (Picture: Ghost of Bakhmut)
Ghost and his team say they typically hunt high-value Russian targets from a distance of around 230ft, and are often thrown into hot spots as a vanguard unit for Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations, which have increased in intensity over recent months.
‘When there is an offensive or a counteroffensive planned, our task is to go in first and clear the area,’ he told the publication.
The number of kills racked up by the unit is equal to an entire battalion, says Ghost, with the commander also claiming to be personally responsible for 113 of them.
However, these figures could not be independently verified.
Kills made by the squad, which is named after their leader, are recorded electronically using the sights of their rifles.
The unit will often stay in position for up to 16 hours a day while tracking their targets, and will remain prone for three to five hours afterwards in order to confirm their kills.
But he said that the deadly work is gruelling, and can mentally tear people apart.
The group remain camoflagued for up to 16 hours at a time (Picture: Ghost of Bakhmut)
Ghost says the group tries to retain some sense of normalcy when they return home from missions, with the commander claiming to spend his time calling his young daughter and writing music to blow off steam between missions.
He also credits the unit’s pet husky Lola as a key factor in raising morale, calling her the group’s ‘anti-depressant.’
The elite squad needed 10 months of training before they were deployed in Bakhmut.
Ghost, an entrepreneur in another life, says he’s been working as a sniper since 2014, signing up for military service after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and receiving sniper training from British, American, Canadian and Lithuanian instructors in 2016.
The commander says his squad’s training has been put to good use, and that not a single member of his team has died.
Ghost said only he and another sniper have so far been wounded, during a mission in which a mine exploded near him, sending shrapnel into his leg.
This injury left him in hospital for 12 days.
The elite squad are often used as vanguard troops ahead of Ukrainian counteroffensives (Picture: Getty)
He also claimed the secret to the group’s success is that they are a tight-knit and self-sufficient group who all wholeheartedly believe in Ukraine’s cause.
‘I am absolutely confident in each and every man who works with me,’ he said.
‘We are absolutely self-reliant. Every element of our task is fulfilled by our own members — we have our own drivers, we have our own truck repairers, everything that we do, we are doing ourselves.
‘We are not relying on anyone outside of our unit. Which is probably why we are all still alive and together.’
‘Bravery is something that can be nurtured. One has to be sturdy, one has to be very resilient, very focused, psychologically very resilient, and obviously patriotic.
‘This aspect of patriotism is very important because a person has to understand what he or she is doing it for.’
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