The Ukrainian sniper team claiming the world’s longest kill shot has described shooting a Russian soldier.
“I was thinking that Russians would now know that is what Ukrainians are capable of,” the sniper told the WSJ.
Vyacheslav Kovalskiy, a former businessman, made the shot from a record 12,470 feet away.
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The Ukrainian sniper claiming to have killed a Russian combatant from a record 12,470 feet away sat still for hours in frigid weather before his spotter ultimately gave the command to fire the shot.
Vyacheslav Kovalskiy, a 58-year-old former businessman-turned-sniper, broke his silence in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, sharing details on how he and his spotter pulled off the Nov. 18 shot from 2.36 miles away amid Russia’s war with Ukraine.
“I was thinking that Russians would now know that is what Ukrainians are capable of,” Kovalskiy told the news outlet in a report published Monday. “Let them sit at home and be afraid.”
Kovalskiy and his spotter, who are members of the military counterintelligence division of the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, had set up positions across the river from a Russian military base in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, with the spotter calculating distance, wind speed, and other factors before the shot was made, the report said.
Shots between 600-1,000 meters,” that’s almost second nature,” a US Marine Corps sniper previously told Business Insider about long-range shooting. “But when you are extending it to the extremes, beyond the capability of the weapon system, you have all kinds of different things to consider.”
Both Kovalskiy and his spotter were competitive long-range shooters before the war and would know the challenges.
The spotter used a laser to figure out how far away the Russian soldiers the pair saw were and determined that there was a powerful wind that would push the bullet about 200 feet from its trajectory, according to the report. The spotter also had to calculate air temperature, humidity, and curvature of the earth to see how it would affect his partner’s bullet.
The pair targeted what appeared to be a Russian officer giving instructions to a group of soldiers. Ultimately, the spotter gave Kovalskiy the green light to pull the trigger, telling him: “You can.”
The bullet from Kovalskiy’s specialist sniper rifle — called the “Lord of the Horizon” — took around nine seconds to hit its target. The rifle consists of an American barrel, a Japanese scope, and other Ukrainian parts, and is one of only 10 in existence; it fires a round that’s 16 cm long, per the Journal.
The Wall Street Journal reviewed footage of the shot, which showed the Russian target dropping to the ground. Such claims of record-breaking kill shots, however, always come with a degree of skepticism given the difficulty of the shot as well as the challenges of verifying all the details in combat. Even some of history’s deadliest snipers have had high numbers of unconfirmed kills with spotty details.
Former snipers and ballistics experts told The Journal that such a shot is possible, but some doubt lingers just the same.
Prior to Kovalskiy’s claimed kill shot, the longest shot was believed to have been taken by a Canadian special forces sniper who killed an Islamic State fighter from a distance of around 2.2 miles in 2017. Canada’s military later confirmed the incident but declined to reveal details for “operational security reasons.”
Before that shot, British army sniper Craig Harrison was believed to have held the record after killing a Taliban militant from 1.5 miles away.