Ukrainian serviceman Vitaly Skakun Volodymyrovych is being remembered as a symbol of the resistance Ukrainians are putting up against Russia after he sacrificed himself in order to destroy a bridge Russian tanks were attempting to use to advance in Crimea, officials said. Volodymyrovych had reportedly volunteered to blow up the bridge while on it and “immediately” carried out the mission, according to the Ukrainian military.
The Kherson region of Crimea was one of the first that was met with enemy troops, the military said. When it seemed like stopping the advancing column of tanks would be impossible, the troops made the decision to blow up the bridge, they said.
“The bridge was mined, but he didn’t manage to get away from there,” a statement from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “According to his brothers in arms, Vitaly got in touch and said he was going to blow up the bridge. Immediately after, an explosion rang out.
“Our brother was killed,” the statement continued.
According to Belarusian publication Nexta, Volodymyrovych had been an engineer for a separate battalion.
Authorities later confirmed that his action “significantly slowed down the push of the enemy allowing the unit to relocate and organize defense,” the statement read.
Now, people around the world are now commending Volodymyrovych for his bravery.
“Heroic deed of [Ukrainian] sailor Vitaliy Skakun, slowed down the advance of [Russian] occupiers on the Crimean Isthmus. He blew up Henichny Road Bridge at the cost of his own life, thus stopping movement of [Russian] tank column. Eternal memory!” tweeted Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Emine Dzheppar.
“The heroism being displayed by Ukrainians like Vitaly Skakun, or the defenders of Snake Island, is deeply humbling and moving,” British Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke tweeted. “The Putin regime stands forever condemned and must pay a lasting price for its crimes.”
Defense and national security expert Elisabeth Braw of the American Enterprise Institute, tweeted, “It’s easy for most of us to say Stand with Ukraine because it costs us nothing. But would we stand up for Ukraine if it cost us our lives (like Vitaly Skakun) … ? I hope so.”