Today the US State Department has confirmed that two more American Citizens have died in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
A State Department representative reported to news outlets that they could not provide details about those killed or the circumstances of their deaths. However, they said they “are in touch with the families and providing all possible consular assistance.”
When pushed for more information, the spokesperson stated, “Out of respect to the families during this difficult time, we have nothing further to add.” What we do know, however, is that in recent days Russians have been intensifying their attacks in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
SOFREP has learned, through POLITICO, the names of those killed and the situation surrounding their deaths. Killed in the fighting, along with a Canadian and Swedish citizen, were Luke “Skywalker” Lucyszn and Bryan Young. They died on July 18th alongside Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois of Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden.
Their deaths were confirmed by the men’s commander, Ruslan Miroshnichenko, today, Saturday, July 23rd. According to Miroshnichenko’s Linkedin profile, we know that he is a graduate of NATO’s Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence and the NATO Senior Staff Officer’s Course.
The combatants were killed when a Russian tank opened fire on them during an extensive firefight on the frontlines in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine. They were part of a special operations force within the Territorial Defense of the Armed forces of Ukraine. Their unit had been based near the town of Siversk, which became a target of the invading Russian force. Tasked with slowing the Russian advance in the region, the men were sent to the village of Hryhorivka, roughly two miles away from Siversk.
According to Miroshnichenko, the men were tasked to take up firing positions and clear out a ravine that Russian forces were utilizing to cross a river. “They did it successfully,” he said. “But at the end of the mission they were ambushed by Russian tanks,”
“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 foreign fighters were tapped to go to the area to reinforce conventional Ukrainian troops specifically because of their specialized skill sets and experience. Their commander explained why they were there, near Hryhorivka:
“A group of professionals with relevant experience in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was created to carry out the task. Two scouts were checking the territory, they were supported by a machine gun and grenade launcher group in case of a combat encounter and the need to cover the departure of the reconnaissance group, as well as for the purpose of inflicting fire damage on the enemy.”
Heavy shelling continued on the position long after the deaths of the soldiers, and it took hours before hostilities eased up enough to have a team go in and recover the bodies.
This is a developing story, and SOFREP will provide more details as they become available.