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An elite Ukrainian sniper who claims he is personally responsible for the deaths of 113 Russian soldiers in the last nine months has revealed exactly how his squad hunts and kills its targets.
The Ghost of Bakhmut, the commander of the elite ‘Ghosts of Bakhmut’ sniper squad, revealed that his team, made up of a few dozen highly-trained soldiers, have killed 558 Russian soldiers in the same period of time.
Ghost, his call sign in the field, also claims to have one of the furthest sniper kills in history, with the team’s last confirmed target being 1.5 miles away, or three times the length of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
He and his team said they typically hunt high-value Russian targets from a typical distance of around 230 ft, and are often thrown into ‘hot spots’ as the vanguard for Ukraine’s counteroffensive actions, which have stepped up in recent months.
‘When there is an offensive or a counteroffensive planned, our task is to go in first and clear the area,’ the anonymous commander told Insider.
Ghost (pictured) is the leader of the Ghosts of Bakhmut sniper squad
The commander claims that the unit has taken out more then 500 Russian soldiers in the past nine months
Kills made by the squad, which is named after their leader, are recorded electronically using the sights of their rifles
The unit’s snipers often have to wait in one position for up to 16 hours a day, and have to be very well camouflaged.
The unit’s primary weapon is the American Barrett M107A1, though members will also use the Barrett MRAD as well as some Ukrainian rifles, including the UAR-10 and the Snipex Alligator.
The effective range of the Barrett M107A1, understood to be the most powerful weapon the Ghosts use, is 1.14 miles, according to its owner’s manual, while its maximum range is 2.49 miles.
Kills made by the squad, which is named after their leader, are recorded electronically using the sights of their rifles, and the unit will stay in their positions for three to five hours afterwards to make sure their quarry has been taken out.
But he said that the deadly work is gruelling, and can mentally tear people apart.
The unit’s snipers often have to wait in one position for up to 16 hours a day, and have to be very well camouflaged
Ghost said that that the unit’s deadly work is gruelling, and can mentally tear people apart
The unit’s primary weapon is the American Barrett M107A1
The unit trained for 10 months before being deployed in Bakhmut
‘It’s nothing like American films that romanticise the work of snipers and show it as very glamorous.’
He said that most of the work the unit does is survival-based.
‘You learn how to calculate, you do the math. You learn how to camouflage yourself, you learn about the environment. You can shoot perfectly well, but if you can’t survive, there is no value in that.’
‘We work 24 hours a day, we don’t differentiate between day or night. There are no weekends.
‘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.’
He said that when they come back from missions, they try to maintain some degree of normalcy.
Ghost said he tries to call his young daughter as often as he can, and writes and sings songs in his spare time.
He added that the unit keeps their morale up with the help of their pet husky Lola, described by Ghost at the unit’s ‘anti-depressant.’
Lola (pictured) is said to be the unit’s ‘antidepressant’
The team have not lost a single soldier since they were dropped into Bakhmut
The elite squad needed 10 months of training before they were deployed in Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Ghost himself, 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.
Ghost says the squad’s training has been put to good use, as not a single member of his team has died.
He said that 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 hospitalised for 12 days.
The unit are known to use the UAR-10, a Ukrainian rifle
The Ghosts of Bakhmut also use the Snipex Alligator in the fielf
The maximum range of a Barrett M107A1 is 2.49 miles
The unit often uses American-made weapons, including the Barrett MRAD
He said that the key to the unit’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.
‘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.’