KYIV – The Ukrainian military issued a statement thanking a marine for allegedly sacrificing himself to destroy a bridge that would allow Russian tanks to advance, the New York Post reports.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces issued a statement on social media on Friday, reporting that Vitaliy Volodymyrovych Skakun, a battalion engineer, had volunteered to mine out the support structure of the Genichesky Bridge near Kyiv before Russian forces could cross it.
Shakun didn’t have time to flee the blast zone before detonating the explosives, so he informed his battalion that he would blow it up anyway.
According to the Armed Forces, the subsequent explosion was immediate, thwarting Russian efforts to mobilize their tank column across the bridge.
“On this difficult day for our country, when the Ukrainian people give way to the Russian occupiers in all directions, one of the hardest places on the map of Ukraine was the Crimean intersection, where one of the first enemies met a separate marine battalion,” according to the post.
When the battalion decided that blowing up the bridge was the only way to stop the armoured column, Volodymyrovych volunteered to place mines on the span, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces.
When he realized he didn’t have time to flee, the brave soldier made the ultimate sacrifice on the bridge that linked Russian-occupied Crimea to mainland Ukraine.
“According to his brothers in arms, Vitaly got in touch [with them] and said he was going to blow up the bridge. Immediately after an explosion rang out,” the military said.
“Our brother was killed. His heroic act significantly slowed down the push of the enemy, allowing the unit to relocate and organise the defence,” the statement said.
“Russian invaders, know, under your feet the earth will burn! We will fight as long as we live! And as long as we are alive we will fight!” it added.
Military commanders said they planned to give Volodymyrovych a posthumous award for his “heroic act.”
As a result of his bravery, Russian forces were forced to take a longer route into the region, according to the US Sun.
According to the outlet, more than 130 Ukrainian soldiers were killed on the first day of fighting after Russian forces stormed the country.