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Ukraine announces the death of four foreign military volunteers


Ukraine announced on Saturday the deaths of four foreign military volunteers fighting Russian forces, whose invasion sparked a wave of solidarity abroad, especially from experienced veterans.

Ukraine’s International Defense Legion, an official volunteer brigade, said the men from Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and France had died but did not say when or under what circumstances.

“We lost our brothers in battle but their bravery, their memory and their legacy will inspire us forever,” he said in a statement.

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AFP journalists in Kharkiv last month attended the May 21 funeral of the Dutch citizen named in the statement, Ronald Vogelaar. Colleagues said he had been killed several days earlier by artillery.

The Australian was believed to have been killed in May and his death was confirmed by a Foreign Office spokesperson.

Tasmania’s Mercury newspaper identified the man as 47-year-old Michael Charles O’Neill. A tribute on Facebook said he was “leading the wounded and injured from the front line”.

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Paris confirmed on Friday that a French volunteer fighter had been killed in action in Ukraine, following reports that the man was killed in artillery fire in the Kharkiv region.

Saturday’s official statement was accompanied by photographs of the men showing them in camouflage and carrying small arms.

The organization says on its website that citizens of countries including Denmark, Israel, Poland, Latvia, Croatia, the UK, the Netherlands and Canada have joined their ranks.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the formation of the force at the start of the war, and Kyiv declared shortly after receiving some 20,000 applications.

The conflict, which has now passed its 100th day, is also believed to have drawn significant numbers of volunteer fighters from former Soviet Georgia, which fought a brief and disastrous war with Russia in 2008.

Russia claimed this week to have killed “hundreds” of foreign fighters in Ukraine since its invasion began on February 24 and stemmed the flow of new arrivals.

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