UKRAINIAN football hooligans have traded scrapping in the terraces for fighting in the trenches.
They have hung up their football shirts and flares, and are now clad in camo while wielding machine guns and Javelin missile launchers.
The ultras, the main cohort of which follow Arsenal Kyiv – which is unrelated to their London namesake, formed their own battle unit and are fighting on the frontline against Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Pictures of graffiti on the streets of Kyiv spell out their mission – “Arsenal Against Putinism”.
And they have been joined on the frontline by other football hooligans, including some who have crossed into Ukraine from Putin’s puppet state Belarus.
The group have formed their own volunteer army of proud yobs, being known as the Kayfariki Group – which translates to “good vibes”.
They have seen action across Ukraine, being involved in battles such as in Kherson, Kharkiv and even in the bloody trenches of Bakhmut.
“Ukraine will be free. Victory will be ours because we are ready to fight to the end,” said one hooligan.
“Day after day, the Kyiv Arsenal fighters are doing their bit to liberate our land from the authoritarian fascist orcs.”
Pictures show the group in their uniforms handling weapons such as sniper rifles, mortars and Western-made Javelins.
And they have been decorated by Kyiv, with numerous hoolies winning medals for their efforts defending Ukraine.
The footie mad fans are understood to be one of the most feared groups of street brawlers in eastern Europe.
And as the group is on the frontline taking the fight to the Russians – The Sun Online spoke to those back home are helping to keep them supplied with military aid.
“We are working all day and every day and we will continue to work until the victory,” one told us.
The group pride themselves on being Ukraine’s only anti-fascist hooligan firm.
And at the start of the war they become a unit in the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine, the country’s volunteer military reserve.
Hooligans in Eastern Europe are often associated with nationalism and the far right – but that is not the case for those who back Arsenal Kyiv.
They pride themselves on being anti-racist – liking nothing better than brawling with ultra-nationalists and Neo-Nazis.
FC Arsenal Kyiv brought the original core of the hooligans together some 15 years ago.
It us an inner-city club – with their arch-rival being Dynamo Kyiv.
Dynamo is often associated with far-right politics and nationalism, further fuelling Arsenal’s hoolies more progressive slant.
Arsenal Kyiv’s first team was dissolved due to financial struggles – but its junior teams continue to compete in city competitions.
But amid the war – the club’s foot soldiers have also lost their beloved leader, Yuriy Samoilenko.
Yuriy was killed when fighting in Kharkiv – with tributes being paid as a “strong and noble person”.
He was the driving force that took them to battle to defend Ukraine.
Yuriy rallied his comrades against Russia’s ruthless invasion.
In 2013, around time the club filed for bankruptcy – their bloodiest battles were against Dynamo Kyiv supporters.
But then a year later, Putin occupied Crimea and Yuriy decided to direct his aggression to an enemy that posed a much more sinister threat – the Russians.
His hardened pals followed – and now the hoolies find themselves ducking bullets rather than fists.
“Nine-years-ago, clashes began,” said one holligan.
“Our society then rallied to resist President Yanukovych, who tried to copy the Russian authoritarian model to Ukraine.
“Our team took an active part in opposing the dogs of the regime from the first days of the clashes.
“As it turned out, it was only the beginning of great trials for our country.
“A lot of water has flowed since that time, but the desire of the Ukrainian people for freedom has remained unchanged.”
At the turn of the invasion on February 24, 2022, the hooligans first joined the conflict ran patrols on the outskirts of Kyiv.
But their crew grew and slowly attracted more fighters from Ukraine and Belarus.
And this rag-tag alliance would eventually form the Kayfariki Group.
The volunteer militia signed up to the Territorial Defense Forces the eventually head east, where the grimmest scenes of the theatre of war unfolded.
In their first deployment, the group reportedly had a successful mission near Borodyanka.
And then September 10, the Kayfariki Unit then played a crucial role in the Kharkiv counteroffensive.
However, the operation would come with a cost.
Yuriy was the first to lead his men in, just like on the terraces, but this time he would never come out the other side.
The 35-year-old was shot during the bloody battle and tragically died soon after in Balakliya.
A comrade close to Yuriy from the anti-authoritarian group, Solidarity Collective, told The Sun Online the bold man would never be forgotten.
The man said: “Yuriy ‘Yanoviy’ Samoilenko was a long-time member of the anti-fascist movement.
“We knew him as one of the comrades that we were supporting, he was a clever and calm commander.
“He will always be remembered as a hero and a brave comrade.”
Despite the passing of their fallen leader, the Kayfariki Unit continue to battle it out as the war rages on.
They are part of an alliance known as the resistance committee and receive a lot of support from the Solidarity Collective.
The group began their large-scale operation in June 2022 and from their have built a massive network.
A spokesman for the Solidarity Collective told The Sun Online they would continue to support the brave soldiers until the war was over.
The spokesman said: “The general situation with the war for us has meant that we agreed on working together on the long term.
“This war will be long and any counter-attack is going to mean a greater amount of losses.
“We are supporting a small amount of fighters compared to the whole of the Ukrainian resistance and the influence on each of their chances of survival and ability to fight effectively is undeniable.”
Besides the Kayfariki, the Solidarity Collective help soldiers from varied units who all shared experiences in anti-authoritarian activism.
They support the Ukrainian troops with a three-pronged approach.
Firstly, is to build links between local labour unions, NGO’s in Ukraine and abroad to organise relief for Ukrainians affected by war.
Secondly, is military gear support – which they provided to more than 100 comrades within the Ukrainian resistance.
And thirdly, is communication that consisted on organising discussions and solidarity events all over Europe and abroad.
However, the group said the war was far from over.
The spokesman said: “A final victory is not to be seen, it will last several years before we can see it, and we will need all the support possible to see it through.
“But we are working all day and every day to see this happen and we will continue to work until the victory.”