Ukrainian “Tank Man” Recalls Tiananmen Square

It’s a searing image that millions have seen, and it is a symbol of heroic resistance to an oppressive regime that harkens back to a similar act of bravery over three decades ago. A young Ukrainian man is shown in a 30-second clip rushing out to block a convoy of Russian tanks and swerving around this courageous and lucky soul.

“Ukrainian rushes under enemy equipment so that the occupiers do not pass.” The Ukrainian media outlet HB tweeted the video with this description.

The accompanying audio reveals an onlooker gasping as the young man tries to block one tank and then slides over in front of another before it swerves off the road to get by. The military vehicles have large “Z’s” painted on their sides, something seen on Russian trucks during the amassing of troops on the Ukrainian border.

Hasn’t the world seen this kind of bravery before?

It has, and comparisons are being made to China’s famous “tank man” who stood down a convoy of four tanks during the Communist government’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. Time magazine named that iconic photograph one of the 100 most influential of all time.

An amateur video from Ukraine spreading on social media shows a man trying to climb onto a moving tank and then kneeling in front of it as residents implore the tank driver to stop. The driver finally halts, and townspeople can be seen pulling the protester off his knees and away from the vehicle. The inspiring video was taken in the town of Bakhmach in Northern Ukraine Saturday and further highlights the kind of resistance the population is throwing in the way of the attackers.

Speaking of “throwing in the way,” brave people are hurling bicycles and anything they can get their hands on in the way of military vehicles.

Much to Russia’s chagrin, it is getting more apparent by the day that Ukrainians are not playing along with Vladimir Putin’s script. Led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other political leaders who are vehemently refusing to leave the capital, the populace will only become more emboldened every day the Russian menace is prevented from assuming control.

“The fight is here,” Zelenskyy told the US when offered a chance to leave Kyiv and harm’s way. “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Putin must be aware of the dangers faced in a street-by-street battle to subjugate a people determined to resist. And perhaps nowhere is this determination more evident than the widely distributed footage of a Ukrainian woman offering a heavily armed Russian soldier sunflower seeds to put in his pocket. So something will grow when he dies.