Two Americans recently died in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, the US State Department announced on Friday.
It was unclear whether they had fought alongside Ukrainian forces in the area, which has come under intense Russian assault and continued Ukrainian resistance in recent weeks. The State Department provided no further information about their identities or the circumstances of their deaths, citing respect for their families.
U.S. officials are in contact with the families and providing consular assistance, according to a State Department spokesperson.
At least two other Americans are believed to have died fighting alongside Ukrainian soldiers. Willy Joseph Cancel Jr., 22, of Kentucky, a former Marine infantryman, died in late April, according to his family. Stephen Zabielski, 52, of Florida, was killed in mid-May, according to a family obituary.
The two Americans were not part of the Ukrainian army’s International Legion, said a spokesman for the Legion, which has recruited volunteer fighters from around the world since the start of the Russian invasion. Earlier this month the legion released the names of three foreign nationals who died in action, two from Brazil and one from France, but said there were other casualties as well.
In recent weeks, Russian forces have taken control of one of the two Donbass provinces, Luhansk, and continued their push towards the other, Donetsk. This week, a senior Russian official indicated in an interview with RIA Novosti that Moscow could expand its territorial ambitions beyond the Donbass to part of southern Ukraine.