Who is the former Israeli commando that 'stepped up' to Russian forces?

Desyatnik is a firearm instructor on the side and provides pre-military training to teenagers who will soon serve in combat roles in the IDF.

 An Ukrainian soldier walks through debris on the west side of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on February 26, 2022.  (photo credit: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
An Ukrainian soldier walks through debris on the west side of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on February 26, 2022.
(photo credit: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dennis Desyatnik, 45, left Israel for Ukraine after receiving a call from his wife's relatives in the country that they feared for their lives amidst the Russian invasion and asked for help to escape, according to a report from Ynet.

After arriving on Ukrainian soil, he realized that he would return back to his family later than he initially thought after hearing horror stories of what happened during the Russian invasion, the report said. Examples included Russians murdering children and raping women.

As a result, he volunteered for a special Ukrainian intelligence unit in the armed forces, which Ynet reports "resembles the IDF's elite special forces unit Sayeret Matkal." Desyatnik said that he and those in his unit destroyed several Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers, as well as neutralized many Russian combatants. During the fighting, Desyatnik was briefly wounded by machine gun fire in the leg but received treatment for it.

After four months in Ukraine, he returned back to Israel. 

Desyatnik's background

Desyatnik made aliyah from Uzbekistan to Israel 26 years ago and spent a total of 14 years serving in the IDF, the Border Police's undercover unit and the Israel Police special patrol unit Yasam, the report said.

 A Ukrainian soldier sits atop a tank passing the Lysychansk Oil Refinery after if was hit by a missile at Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, April 16, 2022.  (credit: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS) A Ukrainian soldier sits atop a tank passing the Lysychansk Oil Refinery after if was hit by a missile at Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, April 16, 2022. (credit: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS)

Desyatnik is also a firearm instructor on the side and provides pre-military training to teenagers who will soon serve in combat roles in the IDF. He says that Ukrainian military officials contact him asking to return, to which he responded that he'd consider it if he got paid to support his family, the report says.

He lives in Haifa with his wife, who is Ukrainian-Israeli, and their five children.