Two Americans, a Canadian and a Swedish citizen were killed when a Russian tank opened fire on them during an hours-long battle at the frontline in the eastern Donetsk Oblast, U.S. politics news outlet Politico reported on July 23, citing the unit’s commander.
Ruslan Miroshnichenko, the commander in question, said on July 23 that the Americans killed were Luke "Skywalker" Lucyszyn and Bryan Young. He said they were killed alongside Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois of Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden on July 18.
The men were part of a special operations force within the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Miroshnichenko said. Their unit has been based near Siversk, a town in eastern Donetsk Oblast that has been the target of Russia's invasion force.
It is noted that in an attempt to slow Russia's advance, the international volunteers were deployed to the village of Hryhorivka, two miles northwest of Siversk. There, Miroshnichenko said, "the guys were tasked to take their firing positions" and clear 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 attempted to help Luke, to do first aid, and evacuate him from this spot. Then the second shell killed them all."
The volunteers were dispatched to the area to reinforce Ukrainian troops and were tapped specifically because of their skills and experience, according to a situation report obtained by Politico that described the attack in more detail.
"We began preparations for clearing the ravine on the eastern outskirts of the Hryhorivka village," read the report, authored 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 themselves in a ravine, possibly digging in. There was a clear danger of creating a bridgehead and grouping a force to strike at the flank and rear of the grouping of our troops."
The reports states that the killed volunteers were experienced professionals, having gained experience in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the group pressed forward, the report said, "the cover group came under heavy mortar fire from enemy artillery of caliber 120 mm or more and cluster munitions."
Two other soldiers, named Finn and Oskar, were injured during this attack.
The report said that at least six Russian tanks "were supported by four armored personnel carriers with up to 70 infantrymen."
Russian forces continued to bombard the group with heavy artillery "corrected by drones" for more than two hours, according to the report.
"As a result of two hours of intense fighting, the enemy retreated with heavy losses," the report concluded.
It is noted that only several hours later did it ease up enough for a team to move in and recover the bodies of the foreign fighters.
In a post memorializing the four men, Miroshnichenko wrote that he admired the volunteer’s drive to help others, and that they performed their duties until the end.
“Calmly and with honor. No pathos, like real soldiers."
Miroshnichenko spoke to Politico from the city of Dnipro, where he said the men's bodies had been taken.
"I have to make sure the bodies of all my boys are repatriated," he said.
Lucyszyn, an American of Ukrainian descent born in 1991, had worked as a police officer in the U.S., according to Miroshnichenko.
Miroshnichenko described Young, born in 1971, as an "American military man" who had been injured and moved 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 recalled 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.
Earlier on July 23, a U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed that two American citizens had recently died in the Donbas region of Ukraine.