Two U.S. citizens were killed while fighting in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region on July 18, alongside a Canadian and Swedish citizen, the U.S. State Department confirmed over the weekend.
“We can confirm the recent deaths of two U.S. citizens in the Donbas region of Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson told ABC News on Saturday. “We are in touch with the families and providing all possible consular assistance.”
Ruslan Miroshnichenko, the commander of Ukraine’s foreign fighters, identified the two Americans killed as Luke “Skywalker” Lucyszyn and Bryan Young. Miroshnichenko told Politico that Lucyszyn and Young were killed alongside Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois of Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden.
The four foreign fighters had joined 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 is located in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk oblast. The unit was deployed to the village of Hryhorivka, where they were tasked with holding back Russian invasion forces attempting to cross a river.
Miroshnichenko said “the guys were tasked to take their firing positions” to clear a ravine where Russian forces were gathering after crossing the river. Miroshnichenko told Politico that the team of foreign fighters successfully completed their task but were then fired upon by Russian tanks.
“The first shell injured Luke,” Miroshnichenko told Politico. “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.”
Lucyszyn and Young are the third and fourth Americans confirmed killed while fighting against Russian forces in Ukraine.
22-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran Willy Joseph Cancel was the first known American killed while fighting in Ukraine in April.
Stephen Zabielski was the second known American to be killed while fighting in Ukraine on May 15.
Journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud was the first known American killed in Ukraine when he was shot and killed by Russian troops while filming in the country in March.
Days after Renaud’s death, a second American was killed alongside other civilians in a Russian artillery strike on the city of Chernihiv in March. The American was later identified as Minnesota native James Hill. He was seeking medical treatment for his Ukrainian wife at the time of his death.
39-year-old Army veteran Alexander Drueke and 27-year-old Marine veteran Andy Huynh were captured by pro-Russian separatists in June. Russian officials have hinted that Drueke and Huynh’s captor may not treat them as lawful prisoners of war and could instead execute them for taking up arms against Russian forces as unlawful mercenary combatants.
Grady Kurpasi, a 20-year Marine veteran, has also been missing in Ukraine since his friends and family last heard from him on April 24.