Roman Svitan is considered a military expert with a suitable biography and experience. However, his predictions are mostly wrong. Why? Letʼs dig deeper and analyze

Yuliana Skibitska
Dmytro Rayevskyi, Kateryna Kobernyk
Roman Svitan is considered a military expert with a suitable biography and experience. However, his predictions are mostly wrong. Why? Letʼs dig deeper and analyze


Roman Svitan is one of the main "military experts" who regularly appear on Ukrainian YouTube and television. Only Oleg Zhdanov is more popular than him with more than 270 million views on his YouTube channel alone. Svitan does not have his own YouTube channel, but he appears almost every day on the broadcasts of major news channels. Svitan built his career as an expert on the fact that he served in the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine until 1997 and retired, as he said, with the rank of colonel. And in 2014, when he was an adviser to the then head of the Donetsk region Serhiy Taruta, he was captured by pro-Russian militants. He positions himself as an expert on aviation, but the range of topics he usually comments on is much wider: events at the front, geopolitics and, of course, the end date of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Svitan says many obvious things from open sources, but his predictions almost never come true. We spoke with Svitanʼs former acquaintances and colleagues, including businessmen Serhii Taruta and Gennadiy Korban, briefly tell his biography and traditionally analyze forecasts.

Roman Svitan is 60 years old, he was born in Makiivka, Donetsk region. In 1981, he entered the Chernihiv Flight School, which he graduated in 1985, and remained there as an instructor pilot. Svitan said that he had been flying fighter jets since he was 18, became a squadron commander, and after 1995, when the Chernihiv Flight School was disbanded, he flew rotorcraft. In total, according to Svitan, he flew 1,800 hours.

In 1997, Svitan retired due to health reasons. He said that there were difficult times in the Ukrainian army at that time — there was simply not enough aviation fuel for flights. After his service, he lived in Donetsk and, according to his own words, was engaged in commerce.

Babelʼs interlocutor in the Air Force, who asked not to be named, says that as an instructor, Svitan flew on the L-39, which is a training aircraft. "He has no combat experience. And military pilots in the aviation of the Air Force, who remember those times, are quite skeptical about Svitanʼs "raid". It is not clear how he could fly for 1,800 hours, if the army really had a problem with fuel at that time," says the source.

Roman Svitan in 2019. Epaulettes correspond to the rank of lieutenant colonel of the Air Force of Ukraine.


In 2014, Svitan was one of the Euromaidan activists in Donetsk. In March 2014, oligarch Serhii Taruta was appointed the head of the Donetsk State Administration, and Svitan became his adviser.

"He was recommended to me as a person who understands local realities," Taruta tells Babel. — The [Donetsk regional] administration was already taken over, there were not many people willing to work. Roman said he was ready. He had a good reputation as a responsible person."

Another of Tarutaʼs assistants, Kostyantyn Batozsky, told "Babel" that Svitan was a good communicator thanks to acquaintances in the Donetsk region. Therefore, he helped Taruta to build a team and coordinated various structures of the State Administration in the region.

In June 2014, Svitan was captured. "He was kidnapped on the street [in Donetsk] — this happened to many activists," says Batozskyi. Roman was captured by militants of Oleksandr Borodaiʼs group, who at that time was the "prime minister of the DNR". While in captivity, Svitan was tortured, his leg was badly wounded — Taruta says that they wanted to get more information from him about the work of the Ukrainian administration. Later, Svitan was handed over to field commander Ihor Bezler in Horlivka. Batozskyi explains that it was with Bezler that it was possible to agree on the exchange. "All other agreements with the separs were fragmentary. You agree on something, then new people come and all agreements disappear," he says.

On July 9, 2014, Svitan was released from captivity. This was done by Volodymyr Ruban, whom Svitan has known since the days of the Chernihiv Flight School and who was then responsible for negotiations between the Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian militants.

After his capture, Svitan did not engage in politics. Serhii Taruta says that he was in a difficult moral and physical condition. In August, Taruta was dismissed from the position of head of the region, and the Ukrainian authorities no longer controlled Donetsk. Svitan lived in Dnipro, had friendly relations with the team of the then head of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Igor Kolomoiskyi.

"I got him out of captivity, then helped with his rehabilitation," Gennadiy Korban tells Babel.

At the same time, Svitan headed the Donetsk branch of the Ukrop party. A source in the party tells "Babel" that this was a formal position, because there was no Donetsk branch as such. But the party needed a person who would represent it in the Ministry of Justice.

In 2019, Svitan became one of the heroes of the documentary cycle "Heroes of Ukrainian Donbas". He spoke briefly about himself and his captivity, and then shared his thoughts on the future of the occupied territories.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Svitan has become a regular guest on the broadcasts of Russian journalist Yulia Latynina. He got to know her even after the capture, since then they have been friends. Subsequently, Ukrainian TV channels also began to invite Svitan as an expert. Already in June 2022, he actively commented on the events at the front.

Svitan conducts a regular column on "Channel 24"; — "Military reports from Roman Svitan". He is also a permanent expert on the channels "News Factory";, "Now";, "Radio NV";, ZAXID.NET, TSN, UNIAN and others. His videos get hundreds of thousands of views. Also, until the end of 2023, Svitan was a permanent expert of the Yedyni Novyni telethon.

Like Zhdanov, Svitan constantly makes predictions about actions at the front and the end of the war. Almost all of them are false.

September 19, 2022 — Ukraine can liberate the entire occupied territory in 2-3 months, and the Russians are "ready to exchange Kherson Oblast, Zaporozhye and Donbass for Crimea."

September 2022 — Russia was late with mobilization, and it will not affect the situation at the front.

November 2022 — the Russian army will run out of heavy military equipment in half a year.

December 2022 — the war will end in 2023, and the Ukrainian army will liberate Melitopol and Crimea by the end of the year.

February 2023 — Ukraine will liberate Crimea by the end of the year.

September 2023 — "in a month or a half, the Armed Forces will destroy the Russian front."

Svitan himself admits that his predictions are often wrong. In a column for the NV site "Why no optimistic forecast for the 2023 front has come true," the blogger explained that "every forecast is based on the situation at the moment." But his analytics often did not coincide with reality.

For example, he said that he overestimated Ukraineʼs chances in 2023, because in January 2023 there was "almost a hundred percent certainty" that Ukraine would receive F-16 aircraft in May-June of the same year. In fact, the Netherlands said it was ready to hand over the planes only in August 2023. Moreover, in February 2023, Svitan assured that Ukraine would go to the Azov coast regardless of whether it would receive planes or not.

In November 2023, when it was clear that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had not achieved its goal, Svitan continued to claim that the armed forces would reach Tokmak by the end of the year. At the same time, he predicted that Ukraine would liberate the occupied territories in the fall of 2024. But within a month, the forecast changed — in December, the blogger said that they would be able to reach the borders of the Armed Forces in 2025.

Roman Svitan is criticized by Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat. In February 2024, Svitan stated that F-16s had already arrived in Ukraine: "According to some indirect signs, especially the launch of missiles, missile control, we can say that this is already happening." Ignat refuted these words and stated that they mislead both Ukrainians and Western partners.

Svitan was also wrong about something else — for example, he said that three months are enough for pilots to learn how to fly an F-16. And the plane itself is supposedly much easier to control than those on the balance sheet of the Air Force. In fact, as a pilot with the call sign "Phantom" who is undergoing this training explained, flying the F-16 is more difficult and takes at least half a year to learn.

"Roman Svitan cannot be an expert in aviation and air defense, because he does not have the appropriate education or even combat experience. He served as an instructor pilot for only 12 years — he reached the position of squadron commander in the distant 1980s and 1990s, so he has no right to hang noodles on the ears of gullible citizens," says Ignat.

Svitan answers that he started flying when Ignat was still "walking under the table", and he himself trained a hundred pilots during his work as an instructor.

Old acquaintances of Svitan, with whom "Babel" spoke, do not see anything wrong in his forecasts. "Roma has been monitoring what is happening at the front for all the years since the beginning of the war. He communicates with various commanders, they give him information. He understands what to say and what not to say, and balances well in this genre," says Serhii Taruta, who continues to communicate with Svitan.

Kostyantyn Batozskyi agrees and adds: "The authorities do not train specialists, this niche is in demand. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is a whole cohort of self-appointed experts who have their own audience."

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