Tank-Killing Ukrainian ‘General’ Is US National War College Graduate

February 27, 2022Matt White

A retired American infantry officer received a Facebook note from an old Ukrainian friend this weekend. The message included a surreal video clip of a Ukrainian soldier strolling casually down a war-torn street, surrounded by broken and burning tanks, carrying an anti-tank missile. The audio track crackles with close, heavy machine-gun fire and Ukrainian curses.

The person filming makes a cryptic comment in Ukrainian, translated by The New York Times as: “Let me introduce you, this is the general.”

The American was stunned by the cinematic display of bravery — perhaps even insanity — by the soldier, who appears to walk without concern and does not seek cover or concealment until he joins other troops in trees just off the road.


Then, to the American’s astonishment, the Ukrainian said: “That’s me.”

Coffee or Die Magazine is not identifying the Ukrainian soldier or his American contact but confirmed that the American is a former US Army infantry officer.

The American said his friend was not a typical infantry soldier, but a regimental commander whom the American sat next to in class for a year at the US’s National War College in Washington, DC — a professional school for midcareer military officers headed to senior command roles. In Ukraine, the American said, the man was in charge of a force the size of an American infantry brigade, or roughly 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers.

“Didn’t even register that it could be him,” the American told Coffee or Die. “I mean, what former Regimental Commanders serve as anti-tank gunners?”

The man appears to be carrying an NLAW rocket, a British anti-tank missile similar to the US Javelin. Both the US and the UK have sent thousands of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in recent months, and numerous pictures of shattered Russian tanks have shown up on social media in recent days. Many show the distinctive damage caused by Javelins and NLAWs: the turrets of the tanks blown clear of their bodies.

Ukrainian tank general
A turret of a Russian tank lies destroyed in combat in purported Ukraine combat footage. Turrets blown clear of the tank body are a signature of US Javelin and British NLAW rockets, like the one seen being carried by the tank-killing “General.” Video clip from Twitter.

Ironically, the American had already seen the video online and posted about it on his personal social media accounts, with no clue it might be his friend.

The New York Times reported that the scene unfolded at a traffic circle near the town of Ivankiv.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that the Ukrainian soldier corresponding with an American friend identified himself as the man in the video.

Read Next: Why Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles are Vital to Ukraine’s Fight Against Russia

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

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