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American killed by Russian artillery in Ukraine

A view near the front line where Ukrainian forces have been battling Russian forces in Irpin, Ukraine, on March 10, 2022. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
March 17, 2022

An American was killed in a Russian artillery attack in Chernihiv, Ukraine, local police first announced on Thursday.

The Chernihiv Region Police announced in a Facebook post, “Police are documenting the consequences of enemy shelling of civilians in the center of Chernihiv. Today, the occupiers once again carried out a heavy artillery attack on unarmed civilian residents of the city. There are dead and wounded people. Among the dead – a US citizen.”

A U.S. State Department spokesperson also confirmed the American’s death before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed news during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

“I can confirm an American citizen was killed. I don’t have any more details for you than that,” Blinken told reporters.

Local Ukrainian media citing Chernihiv Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Chaus said Russia’s shelling and airstrikes left 53 civilians dead on Chernihiv on Wednesday alone.

The death comes days after American journalist Brent Renaud was killed in Irpin on Sunday. Two members of U.S.-based Fox News, Irish-born Pierre Zakrewski and Ukrainian-born Oleksandra Kuvshynova, were also killed on Monday.

Zakrewski and Kuvshynova were killed in Horenka, near the capital city of Kyiv when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire. Fox News journalist Benjamin Hall was also in the vehicle and injured in the gunfire.

At the White House on Wednesday, President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s comments “speak for themselves,” adding that the president was “speaking from the heart.”

While Biden’s remarks indicate a change in the administration’s previous stance on whether Putin is a war criminal, Psaki said no official designation has been made.

“There is a legal process that continues to be underway at the State Department,” she said.

Biden previously said it was “clear” that Russia is targeting civilians during the invasion of Ukraine, but stopped short at classifying Putin’s actions as war crimes.

Secretary Blinken also described Putin as a “war criminal” in a press briefing on Thursday, adding that the State Department was investigating Russia’s war crimes committed in Ukraine.