Ukrainian commander reports more deaths of foreign fighters
A Ukrainian commander of pro-Kiev foreign fighters has disclosed the circumstances of the death of two Americans, a Canadian and a Swede during clashes with Russian forces in Donbass.
US citizens Luke ‘Skywalker’ Lucyszyn and Bryan Young, Canada’s Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden were killed on July 18, their commander Ruslan Miroshnichenko told news outlet Politico on Saturday.
The four men were part of a special operations unit within the Ukrainian territorial defense forces in the town of Seversk, which has recently been the scene of heavy fighting.
On Monday, the fighters were part of a group sent on a mission to the village of Grigorovka, some three kilometers northwest of Seversk, where advancing Russian forces attempted a river crossing, Miroshnichenko said.
They had completed their task but “at the end of the mission they were ambushed by Russian tanks,” he recalled.
“The first shell injured Luke. Three guys, Edward, Emile, and Bryan, they immediately attempted to help Luke, to do first aid and evacuate him from this spot. Then the second shell killed them all,” the commander revealed.
The US State Department confirmed the deaths of the two Americans, but declined to mention them by name “out of respect to the families during this difficult time.”
Politico has also obtained a situation report on the events in Grigorovka, which stated that, besides the fatalities, a fighter named Finn “was injured in his left arm and leg,” while his counterpart, named Oskar, had “received numerous injuries [and] both moved to the evacuation point independently.”
The group of mercenaries was faced with at least six Russian tanks, four armored personnel carriers and up to 70 infantrymen, according to the document.
The foreign fighters were also bombarded with heavy artillery “corrected by drones” for more than two hours, it added.
Thousands of foreign fighters have arrived in Ukraine since the start of the conflict, forming the so-called “International Legion,” after a call by the country’s president Vladimir Zelensky.
In April, the Russian military estimated their numbers at almost 7,000 but, earlier this month, it said that only 2,741 soldiers of fortune remained in Ukraine. Many of them were eliminated while others fled abroad, some complaining about disorder in the ranks of the Kiev forces, and about poor equipment.
Russia’s defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov has recently warned that foreign mercenaries aren’t viewed as combatants under international law and “the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms.”
Earlier this week, the International Legion’s spokesperson Damien Magrou revealed to NBC News that “there’s been a gradual dip in the number of arrivals over the course of the last few months,” blaming such state of affairs on “Russian disinformation.”