Ukrainian man, 64, destroys Russian gas truck with grenade launcher—Report
A Ukrainian man, 64, single-handedly destroyed a Russian gas tank with a grenade launcher, just days after President Vladimir Putin's war began in February, according to local media reports. In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Valentin Didkovskiy, born in Lviv in western Ukraine, and dubbed the "fighting grandfather," said he was in Bucha in Ukraine's Kyiv region on February 27 when he saw column of approaching Russia's armed forces. "I see--a large column [of Russia's armed forces] coming from the direction of the Bucha station.
I took a grenade launcher and grenades... I went behind the house--first I passed the first armored personnel carrier, the second, an armored personnel carrier, a tank--and I saw gas truck," Didkovskiy recalled in the interview, published on August 2. "It [gas tank] stopped, and I fired a grenade launcher.
When I hit it--everything was on fire," he said. Newsweek has been unable to independently verify Didkovskiy's account, and has contacted Russia's foreign ministry for comment.A Ukrainian serviceman stands near a destroyed Russian tank in the northeastern city of Trostyanets, on March 29, 2022. FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images
Didkovskiy said because of the fuel that was burning after he fired the grenade launcher, the Russian equipment was stalled. He then threw several grenades at the Russian troops, and kept one for himself, "just in case."
He said he was given a Russian RPG-18 grenade launcher and RGD-5 grenades from Ukrainians he knew, the day before. Didkovskiy told the news outlet that he was able to run to a nearby yard as he was concealed by the fire. From there, he was able to launch new strikes against the Russian troops, and informed Ukraine's armed forces of the Russians' coordinates.
Footage published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which Didkovskiy said he filmed in the aftermath of the attack, shows the charred remains of vehicles, smoke rising from the scraps of metal. The 64-year-old told Ukrainian news outlet Novynarnia in June that at first, he didn't want to speak about the ordeal to the media. "At first I refused any interviews, I didn't want to tell anything.
And then I changed my mind--I should talk about how the Russians came to 'liberate' us. And so that our young people know: we must protect our own!" he said in the interview. According to Novynarnia, Didkovskiy is a fighter of the voluntary formation of Ukraine's Irpin, in the Kyiv region. "I understood what it was all about.
When the war started in the east, I immediately closed my business and started helping the boys," he said.
He told the news outlet that the clash between himself and Russian troops lasted roughly a minute and a half. "As they came towards us along [Bucha's] Vokzal'na Street, I heard explosions and shots. Through a gap between a fence, I looked at how they [Russians] were moving: in a chain on both sides of the road, and in the middle--machinery," he recalled.
"In my yard, there is an old car trailer near the fence, so I calculated everything, quietly climbed onto that trailer, got ready.... Missed three armored personnel carriers at first, and then took aim. I saw a fuel truck is coming.
I thought to myself: if it catches fire, stops, then it will block the movement of other equipment," he explained. "And everything happened suddenly! I shot, jumped off the trailer.
I don't know how I managed all this in a minute and a half! I managed to throw three more grenades into the column. And the crabs themselves, under the fence, began to run away--they had already started chasing me.
But I managed to escape!"