Exclusive: U.S. Confirms American Volunteer Killed Fighting in Ukraine

An American volunteer has been killed fighting in Ukraine, Newsweek has learned.

"We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine," a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Newsweek on Friday. "Out of respect for the privacy of the family, we have no further comment at this time."

Earlier on Friday, a Russian official said Russian forces had killed an American who was volunteering to defend Ukraine amid the ongoing war.

Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Russia's far eastern Primorsky Krai region, said on his Telegram channel that volunteers from Primorsky "Tiger" Detachment had killed a 24-year-old American man in combat.

Kozhemyako named the individual who was reportedly killed, but the man's identity has not been confirmed by U.S. officials.

"An American mercenary has been destroyed in Ukraine. And this is in the first clash literally immediately after arriving at the front line!" wrote Kozhemyako.

He added that a group of trained foreign mercenaries fighting for Ukraine's armed forces approached the "Tiger" volunteers, but that the Russian volunteers "did not flinch and repulsed the attack."

An Ukrainian officer
A Ukrainian officer stands in front of a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre gun Caesar at a front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 15, 2022. There are reports that an American volunteer has been killed in the fighting in Ukraine. ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images

The regional governor didn't specify when or where in Ukraine the American was allegedly killed, but shared images that purportedly show his U.S. passport and a Ukrainian military card.

The documents shared by Kozhemyako said that the man was born in Tennessee and that he had enrolled with Ukraine's armed forces on July 24 with the A344 military unit.

Other images circulating online indicated that he was a "marksman" or a "shooter."

Newsweek has been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the images, and has reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense as well as Russian and Ukrainian authorities for comment.

At least half a dozen Americans have been killed in Ukraine.

Last month, American citizens Luke Lucyszyn and Bryan Young were killed alongside a pair of Canadian and Swedish nationals while volunteering to fight in Ukraine against Russian forces, which invaded on February 24.

The pair were killed on July 18 during an ambush by a Russian tank, their Ukrainian commander, Ruslan Miroshnichenko, said on Facebook.

Other Americans who have died fighting in Ukraine include Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, who died during a battle in April, and Stephen Zabielski, 52, who was killed in May in the village of Dorozhnyanka, in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Friday that due to privacy considerations, the department could not confirm where in Ukraine the U.S. citizen had been killed.

"Once again, we reiterate U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine, due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of U.S. citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials," the spokesperson said.

"U.S. citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options."

Update 8/26/22 12:23 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with background information.