The moment a barrage of missiles killed a Ukrainian grain tycoon – and injured a unit of British volunteer fighters next door was captured on video exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com.
A Russian S-300 missile blasted into the bedroom of Oleksiy Vadatursky and his wife on July 31, killing them and leaving a gaping crater in their riverside mansion in the southern Ukraine town of Mykolaiv.
Camped out in an old sanatorium next door were the Dark Angels, an elite unit of international volunteer fighters tasked with guerilla attacks behind Russian lines, who were also hit with the artillery barrage and caught one explosion on camera.
The footage obtained by DailyMail.com shows the flash of a bomb going off outside the window, the destroyed rooms of the building, and two bloodied comrades having their injuries bandaged after the blast.
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Members of foreign military volunteer group the Dark Angels were camped out in this old sanatorium when Russian missiles blasted into a neighboring mansion in Mykolaiv in south Ukraine on July 31
Footage shared with DailyMail.com shows the aftermath of the deadly bombing which devastated nearly everything in its path
The Russian S-300 missile blasted into the bedroom of Ukrainian grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadatursky, 74, and his wife Rayisa killing them both and leaving a gaping crater in their riverside mansion
The mass shelling that killed the couple was most likely the strongest by Moscow on the city so far, damaging a hotel, a sports complex, two schools, a service station and homes
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, British former banker and combat medic Macer Gifford who has been embedded with the unit described the Russian attack and the high-stakes missions the unit has been carrying out.
‘It was 3am, the guys were asleep. Then bang, they got hit by artillery rounds that struck about five meters (16ft) in front of the building, which blew in all the windows and the doors off their frames in an instant.
‘They woke up with dust and glass swirling around the building, they obviously leapt to their feet, just as several more very heavy shells struck around the building, in the gardens and the building next door.
British former banker and combat medic Macer Gifford, 35 has been helping lead the high-stakes missions that the volunteer unit – made up of British and foreign fighters – has been carrying out
‘Shrapnel from one of those rounds came smashing through the building, striking one of the guys in the shoulder, and another guy, the leader of the unit, in the foot.’
The Dark Angels are led by British former paratrooper Daniel Burke, who served in Afghanistan and was part of the international volunteer force who fought Islamic State in Syria.
Gifford, 35, whose real name is Harry Rowe, volunteered alongside Burke in Syria and has joined him this year in Ukraine providing paramedic training to the country’s soldiers.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, the barrage included over 40 artillery shells and missiles.
Gifford said the fighters sheltered under the concrete staircase and waited for a gap in the shelling before piling into a 4×4 and retreating.
‘The sanatorium which was our home for nearly two months was completely devastated and destroyed,’ Gifford said.
‘Thankfully, only two of our guys were lightly injured and we’re expecting them to make a full recovery.’
The former banker was in the UK at the time, having returned home for his brother’s wedding. He is set to return to the front lines in the coming days with supplies including night vision goggles and encrypted radios.
Gifford claimed the strike was a ‘targeted assassination’ of Vadatursky, an ardent supporter of the Ukrainian military and pro-European.
Members of the Dark Angels were woken up at 3am by multiple artillery rounds striking the neighboring building, damaging their occupied sanatorium and injuring two fighters
Fortunately, only two volunteer soldiers were ‘lightly injured’ in the blast, suffering injuries to their legs and hands, but are now recovering
Videos show the blood-stained floor of the soldiers’ base after they were forced to find refuge after the building was bombed
The fighters sheltered under the concrete staircase and waited for a gap in the shelling before piling into a 4×4 and retreating
‘The Russians took the opportunity to hit the wider area, knowing that in other places along the river, there are concentrations of Ukrainian soldiers, and also humanitarian areas that are used to bring in supplies for the population,’ he added.
‘Alexi’s house was literally right next door to us,’ Gifford said.
‘If you went behind the sanatorium, there’s a little private beach. I would often go down to the beach to clear my head.
‘We’ve traveled up and down Ukraine, training people. We’ve operated on the front line. And we have really pushed ourselves both physically and mentally for a very long time now. One of the most peaceful things that you can do is just sit and watch the sun go down next to the river.
‘I would often see in these moments of tranquility an old couple that would walk down a private pier, just 100 meters further down the river. It turned out to be [Vadatursky] and his wife.
‘They would go there almost every evening to watch the sun go down, which adds another sort of tragic dimension to what happened to him.’
Vadatursky was one of the country’s wealthiest men. He founded Nibulon, the largest grain logistics company in Ukraine.
The Russian bombs struck 15ft in front of the building, blowing in all the windows and the doors off their frames in an instant
Gifford said the abandoned sanatorium had served as the volunteers’ ‘home’ for nearly two months before being completely devastated and destroyed in the attack
Videos show the damage to the building, which has been nearly reduced to pile of rubble and is now uninhabitable
A broken door was blown off its frame and is now strewn among the debris following the devastating missile strike
Shrapnel from the artillery rounds came smashing through the building, striking one of the men in the shoulder, and another guy, the leader of the unit, in the foot, Gifford said
A war crimes prosecutor examines the damage in a destroyed building following the bombing. Authorities in Mykolaiv said that widespread Russian bombardments overnight had left at least two civilians dead – who are understood to be Mr and Mrs Vadatursky
When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, he financed a 2,000-strong private militia to try to fight them off.
Just hours before the strike, Vadatursky helped reach an agreement with Russia that allowed for the resumption of Ukraine’s grain exports to the rest of the world through the previously-blockaded Black Sea.
Gifford said that the Ukrainian military would soon be conducting a ‘big push’ to take back land occupied by the invading Russian army in the south and east of the country.
‘It’s almost like they’re building up a clunking fist to go smashing through the Russian lines,’ he said. ‘I saw thousands, if not tens of thousands, of men and women in uniform, training, being supplied with Western weaponry.’
His Dark Angels unit has been one of the most effective, causing fear and confusion with strikes deep into Russian-held territory.
‘Their mission is basically operating behind enemy lines, sneaking behind Russian lines, finding weak points in the line, and then hitting them with anti-tank missiles. Effectively sort of a shoot and scoot tactic,’ he said.
Gifford claimed the strike was a ‘targeted assassination’ of Vadatursky, an ardent supporter of the Ukrainian military and pro-European, who lived next door. Ukrainians are seen attending his funeral at St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Kyiv on August 5
The deadly attack on the grain tycoon came nine days after the Russia and Ukraine – both of which are major exporters of grains such as wheat – signed a UN-brokered agreement in Turkey to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports, raising hopes that the international food crisis might be eased
‘They don’t hang around, they don’t engage in long gun fights with the enemy. It’s just harass them and then leave.’
Gifford said the Dark Angels have even been offered contracts to officially join the Ukrainian armed forces.
He added that he is ‘nervous but determined’ to rejoin the fight.
‘The morality of what we’re doing has never been more clear to me than it is now,’ he said. ‘At the end of the day, Ukraine is a sovereign nation on the edge of Europe. It’s an ally of the United Kingdom. It’s a country that desires peace and democracy.’
Why did Russia agree to the grain deal?
Russian President Vladimir Putin had been accused of ‘weaponizing’ the food crisis, deliberately driving up global prices in response to Western sanctions that hampered the Russian economy.
His agreement with Ukraine on July 22 – nine days before the missile attack on Mykolaiv – appeared to be a rare display of diplomacy between the warring countries, leaving many to ask why Russia has appeared to drop its belligerence.
Last month Putin said the deal was effectively a quid pro quo which would also unblock the export of Russian grain, food and fertilizer to global markets.
A second pact was signed which smoothed exports and ensured that no US or EU sanctions would apply.
Exports were never explicitly banned but some shipping companies have avoided carrying Russian goods because of the risks involved.
Putin said: ‘As you know, Americans have essentially lifted restrictions on the supply of Russian fertilizers to the world markets.
‘If they sincerely want to improve the situation on the international food markets, I hope the same will happen with the supply of Russian grain for export.’
Putin hopes the deal will give him leverage and allow for further concessions towards Russia, while also boosting the economy by allowing for its own exports to flow more freely
To address Russian concerns about ships smuggling weapons to Ukraine, all returning ships will be inspected at a Turkish port by representatives of all parties and overseen by the JCC.