Ukraine
A group of Ukrainian fighters drawn from Kyiv’s subcultures has been engaged in fierce combat on the frontlines (Picture: United24)

A small group of Ukrainian paratroopers is shown in dramatic video footage spending 14 hours fighting for their lives as they are surrounded by Russian forces. 

The Kayfariki unit, accompanied by journalists, were heavily outgunned and outnumbered as they tried to hold the line against a fierce enemy assault.  

Faced with a large armoured convoy, including three tanks, the Ukrainian troops fought back with grenades, assault rifles and a single, one-shot anti-tank weapon.

The group of friends, whose name loosely translates as ‘those who enjoy life’, were filmed by journalists from United24, Ukraine’s official fundraising platform.

Drawn from Kyiv’s subcultures, the members dabble in punk music and anti-fascist hooliganism — in sharp contrast to the false Russian propaganda about Ukrainian soldiers spread by Vladimir Putin.

Journalist Philip Malzahn, in a film for United24, thought he was being taken on a mission to hold the first line of defence outside a village newly captured by Russian troops, who were just 600 metres away.

At first, the group estimated that it would take the well-armed invaders a couple of days to regroup and stage the next assault.

‘We were wrong,’ Malzahn reported. ‘Suddenly, the worst of all possible scenarios became a reality: the Russian army attacked the village we were stationed in with a large armoured convoy, including three tanks.

‘Surrounded from all sides, the paratroopers ended up fighting a 14-hour battle for the position, for their lives, and ours.’

The video and body-cam footage at the undisclosed location gives a graphic insight into the odds faced by overstretched Ukrainian forces trying to hold the line as they wait for US military to arrive at scale.

Constant Russian drone activity overhead makes any movement outside potentially deadly, with ‘building destroyer’ glide bombs also being launched at the defending troops. At one point, a gas grenade fills a basement they use for shelter with smoke.

How Ukraine’s ‘rebels with a cause’ took on Putin's men in 14-hour gun fight
The unit fought around the clock from a basement (Picture: United24)

Commanded by Sova, a tattoo artist from Kyiv whose real name is Roma, they engage in close-quarters, house-to-house combat as the Russians advance in greater numbers.

Malzahn was embedded with troops in the cellar, named The Shelter, just behind the nearest forward position to the Kremlin’s troops, named The Yard. Another formation, the Black Sea Defence Group (BSDG), comprised of mixed martial artists, also take part in the last-ditch effort to hold the bombed-out settlement.

The Russian soldiers are so close the defenders can hear their shouts.

Demonstrating just how perilous the situation is, one of the men, named Punk, sustains a shrapnel wound to his leg as the Shelter and nearby buildings start to burn.

After 12 hours of exhausting fighting and with ammunition running low, their only means of escape was a nearby trench but the route across open ground was blocked by an enemy BTR armoured personnel carrier.

They made a ‘miraculous’ exit in the dark after two comrades named Vegan and Woody, whose names speak to the group’s civilian lives, killed the vehicle’s crew in an unspecified action.



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‘We leave the shelter after 14 hours and run,’ Malzahn says in the film.  

‘Miraculously we all make it.’

One of the troops shouts: ‘F***, f*** we survived!’

All four of the men, as well as a cameraman, are injured.

Another group of Ukrainian fighters led by Sova were able to fight their way out through enemy-controlled territory.

‘Having survived only due to the bravery and resilience of the commanders Sova, Gaba and their boys, we head home with a near-death experience that hopefully won’t repeat itself so soon,’ Malzahn reflects.

’For the Kayfariki and the BSDG it is back to war the next day.

‘This, like for all soldiers, is their life now. Ukraine or death.’

How Ukraine’s ‘rebels with a cause’ took on Putin's men in 14-hour gun fight
A Ukrainian soldier throws a grenade over a wall (Picture: United24)

Malzahn also reflects on how the men have swapped civilian lives and their interest in Kyiv’s subcultures to face death on a daily basis.  

‘They are, like many others in Ukraine, a group of friends who came together when the war started,’ Malzahn says.

‘What separates them from almost all others is that some were active members of various subcultures, like anti-fascist hooligans.

‘They really are the exact opposite of what Russian propaganda portrays Ukrainian soldiers to be. Rebels, but with a cause.’

How Ukraine’s ‘rebels with a cause’ took on Putin's men in 14-hour gun fight
The Ukrainian paratroopers made a narrow escape (Picture: United24)

Russian forces conducted large-scale missile and drone strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the US Institute for the Study of War.

The intensified attacks are an attempt to exploit Kyiv’s ‘degraded’ air defence ahead of the arrival of US and Western security assistance at scale, the research group said.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) identified Russian attacks intensifying in eastern Ukraine, mainly in the Adviivka, Chasiv Yar and Marinka areas.

In an intelligence update on X, the MoD said that Russian forces had only made ‘minor tactical gains in the area during April and almost certainly sustained heavy losses’.


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