On 24 February 2022, Russia formally invaded Ukraine as an escalation of a pre-existing conflict between the two countries. The very first day of the invasion saw the Kyiv offensive in which videos of fighter jets in Ukraine started circulating social media.

This included the pilot of a MiG-29 who was claimed to have been the victor of six dogfights in the sky of Kyiv during the final thirty hours of the invasion. After this, the Ukrainians heralded the pilot as the Ghost of Kyiv.

According to the Security Service of Ukraine, he has shot down ten Russian jets as of 27th February. If this pilot does exist, they would be the first ever recorded fighter ace of the twenty first century.

However, much of the footage and images of the Ghost of Kyiv has been proven to be fake, making it possible that he only exists as propaganda. Computer-generated footage of the pilot winning a dogfight was fabricated using the popular 2013 videogame Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) and was later uploaded to YouTube. The uploader made it very clear that the footage was fake and was merely a tribute to the Ghost of Kyiv. Furthermore, the video was shared by the official Armed Forces of Ukraine twitter account, which led to an escalation of views and then a wider circulation of the video online.

Adding to the misconceptions of the Ghost of Kyiv, Petro Poroshenko, former President of Ukraine, posted a picture on Twitter of a fighter pilot whom he claimed was the real Ghost of Kyiv. Despite this, his claim was later debunked as it was discovered to have been reused from a previous post from 2019, used to show a pilot employing a new helmet design.

Real or not, the Ghost of Kyiv can be credited with single-handedly raising the morale for all Ukrainians.