Russian tank attack in eastern Ukraine kills 2 Americans, a Canadian and a Swede

In an attempt to slow Russia’s advance, the foreign fighters were deployed in the village of Hryhorivka, three kilometers northeast of Siversk. There, Miroshnichenko said, “the guys were tasked with taking up their firing positions” and clearing a ravine where Russian forces were working to cross a river.

“They did it successfully. But at the end of the mission, they were ambushed by Russian tanks,” Miroshnichenko said. “The first shell injured Luke. Three guys, Edward, Emile and Bryan, they immediately tried to help Luke, do first aid and get him out of there. Then the second shell killed them all.

The State Department spokesman confirmed the death of the two Americans on Friday but did not name them. “We are in contact with the families and providing all possible consular assistance. Out of respect for the families at this difficult time, we have nothing more to add,” the spokesperson told POLITICO.

The Canadian and Swedish governments could not immediately be reached for comment.

Russian troops used air power, tanks and heavy artillery to destroy entire cities in their quest to capture all of the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, often referred to collectively as Donbass. Siversk is 20 miles north of the town of Bakhmut and along a highway which is essential for moving troops and equipment to the front. Capturing these two places would give the Russian army a significant hold and control of around 80% of the Donetsk region.

The foreign fighters were sent to the area to reinforce Ukrainian troops and were called upon specifically because of their skills and experience, according to a situation report obtained by POLITICO that describes the attack in more detail.

“We have started preparations to clear the ravine on the eastern outskirts of the village of Grigorovka,” reads the report, written by a commander. “The preparation was carried out on the basis of the following information: at night the enemy force crossed the river and entrenched itself in a ravine, possibly by digging. There was a clear danger of creating a bridgehead and of regroup a force to strike at the flank and rear of the grouping of our troops.

“A group of professionals with relevant experience in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been created to carry out this task. Two scouts checked the territory, they were supported by a group of machine guns and grenade launchers in case of combat and the need to cover the departure of the reconnaissance group, as well as in order to inflict fire damage on the ‘enemy. ”

As the group advanced, the report stated that “the covering group came under heavy mortar fire from enemy artillery of 120mm caliber or greater and cluster munitions”.

“Luke was injured during the shelling. The rest of the group…provided appropriate first aid.

“Taking advantage of the break between the shelling, it was decided to evacuate to the nearest shelter. During transportation, as a result of the direct impact of a tank shell, Brian, Edward, Emile, Luke received injuries incompatible with life.

Another soldier named Finn, the report noted, “was wounded in the left arm and leg.” Another soldier named Oskar “received numerous wounds [and] both moved to the evacuation point independently.

Russian forces continued to bombard the group with “drone-corrected” heavy artillery for more than two hours, the report said. It wasn’t until hours later that he calmed down enough for a team to move in and collect the bodies of the foreign fighters.

The report states that at least six Russian tanks “were supported by 4 armored personnel carriers with up to 70 infantry”.

They were met by Ukrainian machine gunners and troops on armored vehicles which halted the advancing Russian forces.

“Following two hours of heavy fighting, the enemy retreated with heavy casualties,” the report concludes.

In an article commemorating the four men, Miroshnichenko wrote, “Foreign volunteers are knowingly waging this war against Mordor” – a term from Tolkien’s books to describe the evil kingdom of Sauron which was adopted in the Ukraine to refer to Russia – ” and I am honored to be their commander.

“It hurts so much to lose the boys. The emotions are overwhelming and I can’t find the words for the post they deserve,” he continued. “I just want to say they weren’t hiding, but they looked for every opportunity to be helpful, they all fully volunteered and did their duty in the front line until the end. Calmly and with honor. No pathos, like real soldiers.

Miroshnichenko spoke to POLITICO from the town of Dnipro, where he said the men’s bodies were taken. “I have to make sure the bodies of all my boys are repatriated,” he said.

Lucyszyn, a Ukrainian-American born in 1991, had worked as a police officer in the United States, according to Miroshnichenko. “He had trouble pronouncing his surname ‘Lucyszyn’,” he joked, “but insisted a lot on his Ukrainian roots: his grandmother had emigrated from Ukraine to the United States after World War II world.”

Speaking of Lucyszyn’s call sign, Skywalker, Miroshnichenko said, “As in Star Wars, he challenged the Evil Empire itself on the side of the weaker but free.”

Miroshnichenko described Young, born in 1971, as an “American serviceman” who had been wounded and transferred to reserves. When the Russian invasion began, he decided to come to Ukraine because he “took an oath to protect the free world”.

Sirois, Miroshnichenko said, was a paramedic with experience in the French Foreign Legion. Born in 1991, he remembers him “always smiling”.

Patrignani, born in 1994, had been a reserve lieutenant, economist and philosopher in Sweden who wanted to form “a platoon of Swedes”, according to Miroshnichenko.

POLITICO could not immediately reach the families of the men for comment.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the doors for foreigners to come and fight for Ukraine in March when he announced the creation of an International Legion. Legion officials told POLITICO on Saturday that “thousands” of foreigners, including “hundreds” of Americans, have flocked to Ukraine to join its fight against Russian invaders.

The Biden administration has repeatedly warned American citizens to travel to Ukraine and encouraged any in the country to leave immediately.

At least three other Americans have died since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Two were killed in action. Two other US citizens, Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, were captured by Russian forces while fighting in the eastern region of Kharkiv and are currently being held by Russian-led forces in the occupied city of Donetsk.

Paul McLeary contributed reporting from Washington.


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