An Australian man has been killed fighting in Ukraine, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said.
Sage O’Donnell, from the southeastern state of Victoria, is believed to have been killed just before Christmas, according to a report from the country’s national broadcaster, ABC.
In a statement through DFAT, O’Donnell’s mother said her son “died in action defending the freedom of the Ukrainian people”.
“Sage chose to take action based on his empathy for the Ukrainian people, and the injustice that is taking place. He fell in love with Ukraine and its culture and was humbled by the kindness and hospitality within his new community,” she said.
DFAT did not provide details on where in the war-torn country O’Donnell was killed but said it was “providing consular assistance to the family”. O’Donnell is at least the fourth Australian to have died in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February.
During the past 10 months, legions of volunteers from around the world have made their way to Ukraine, fighting what they believe is unprovoked aggression from Russia.
In June, Russia’s defence ministry said 1,956 “foreign mercenaries” have died in battle since the conflict started in February. At the time, Moscow said nearly 7,000 foreign fighters had arrived in Ukraine to join the conflict, of which more than 1,700 had left.
That same month, a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic — a breakaway territory annexed by Russia — sentenced three foreign fighters to death. The fighters included two British citizens and a Moroccan man. The death sentence drew sharp criticism from the United Nations.