Ukraine hairdresser by day hunts drones by night

STORY: “My name is Shamshur Oleksandr. Before February 24, 2022, I worked as a hairdresser. Now, at the time of war I carry out military tasks."

Hairdresser by day.

"Drone hunter" by night.

Oleksandr Shamshur is among tens of thousands of volunteers helping to defend the skies over Ukraine against Russian attacks.

One year since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on a "special military operation," Ukraine is becoming increasingly adept at shooting down Russian missiles and drones.

Shamshur takes pride in his own role.

His unit, which includes a lawyer and a businessman, respond to air raid alerts in and around Kyiv using a thermal camera with a range finder.

They spot Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones and shoot them down with a restored World War Two machine gun.

“I am a very happy person. Why? Because I am defending my country, I am defending our Ukrainian people. But at the same time, I can come to the beauty salon and work with the people, do the work I know, cut hair and talk (to clients).”

Shamshur was an army reservist before the war.

Soon after Russia invaded, he learned that his military base had been destroyed by shelling.

So he joined territorial defenses, initially delivering food to civilians and helping evacuate people.

“(I wanted) to defend people. And it is not because it is a duty, it is because I want to do it. What else could I do? It did not even occur to me to run away or hide somewhere, no.''

During one night in December 2022, Shamshur said his rooftop unit managed to shoot down two drones over Kyiv.

“If needed, I will sacrifice my life, I will not think twice about it.''

When working in his salon, he says he tries to keep conversation with his clients light.

“You should not upset a woman, a woman should be happy. Because if she is not,” SHAMSHUR LAUGHING, CONTINUING: “Being here could be more scary than being over there (at the military post).”

“My dreams? I dream of the end of the war. But only on certain terms. Only if we win. The war can end only on our terms. There can be no negotiations. Because the enemy is sly and if we start negotiating, they will use the time to build up their forces, to boost troops, gather more rockets, etc. And soon, the same thing will happen again.”