'Grandfather' who shot down a Russian exploding drone with his Kalashnikov rifle receives bravery medal, says Ukraine military

Ukrainian infantryman known as "grandfather" holds pieces of a Russian drone he says he shot down with an automatic rifle
Ukrainian infantryman known as "Grandfather" holds pieces of a Russian drone he says he shot down with an automatic rifle.Territorial Defence of the Armed Forces
  • A Ukrainian soldier with the call sign "Grandfather" says he downed a drone with his rifle.

  • The electrician-turned-solider took aim at an exploding Shahed drone with his Kalashnikov rifle.

  • Large numbers of Shahed drones have been supplied to Russia by Iran.

A 59-year-old Ukrainian soldier, known by the call sign "Grandfather," has been awarded a medal of bravery for shooting down a Russian exploding drone with his Kalashnikov automatic rifle, according to the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces.

Only identified by his call sign, the soldier has been fighting in Zaporizhzhia for over a year. He told the news site Zaporizhzhia Public how he came out of his dugout one recent night and heard the sound of the Iranian-built drone. He grabbed his rifle and started shooting.

"Grandfather" described his incredible feat of sharpshooting.

"I caught him. He was coming straight at me. He was maybe 150 meters away from me. He was approaching above me. I took a flashlight and opened fire." He said there was no time to switch to automatic, and he fired single shots at the exploding drone that can fly at hundreds of miles per hour, depending on the series.

"There was no time for singles to switch. He flies fast. He flies 40 meters in about a second," he said.

"After it hid behind the horizon, sparks fell from it, the engine began to stall, and it became completely silent. Well, six seconds later, an explosion rang out," he told Zaporizhzhia Public.

Commending his bravery, "Grandfather" was awarded the Cross of the Brave medal from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces said in a Facebook post.


Before Putin's invasion, "Grandfather" was employed as an electrician. He said he joined up to fight Putin's soldiers on February 25, the day after Russia's invasion began.

He said the first village he helped liberate was the place where he was born, northeast of Mykolaiv.

"The first village we recaptured from the 'Orks' was Poltavka, where I was born. And there I met my childhood friends. Everyone came out crying," he told Zaporizhzhia Public.

After the war and the liberation of all Ukraine's territory that he is fighting for, "Grandfather" says he looking forward to a family holiday in Crimea, occupied by Russia in 2014, he told the outlet.

Russia Iran Shahed-136 drone Kyiv Ukraine
A Russian drone, considered by Ukrainian authorities to be an Iranian-made Shahed-136, over Kyiv on October 17, 2022.REUTERS/Roman Petushkov

The Shahed drone that the 59-year-old shot down is part of what the Institute of the Study of War describes as Russia's attempt to utilize these "lower-precision systems" to "offset the degradation of Russia's precision munition supply."

The Shahed drone has a warhead packed with explosives on its nose, per the BBC, and is intended to detonate on impact.

Russia first took delivery of Shahed drones, as well as the larger Mojaher-6, from Iran in August 2022, The Washington Post reported. According to the Post, the first shipment included Shahed-129 and Shahed-191 models.

Russia has used these drones to repeatedly attack Ukraine, including hitting the cities of Kyiv, Odesa, Poltava, Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv.

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