The United States confirmed on Tuesday that a second American national had been killed in Ukraine and reiterated its call not to take part in the conflict as two other Americans were captured by Russia.
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The State Department has confirmed the death of Stephen Zabielski, 52, and said he was providing consular assistance to his family.
“We reiterate that U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the ongoing armed conflict and the risk of being targeted by Russian government security officials in Ukraine for their U.S. citizenship,” a spokesman for U.S. diplomacy said.
He urged Americans in the belligerent country “to leave immediately, if it is safe to do so, by overland transport, commercial or private.”
Stephen Zabielski is the second American to be killed fighting Ukrainian troops since Russia invaded the country in late February.
A 22-year-old former Marine, Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed in the same circumstances in late April.
In an obituary published in a newspaper in upstate New York, where Stephen Zabielski lived, we learn that this former construction worker, who leaves behind a wife and five stepchildren, died on 15 “Ukraine”.
His death was confirmed after two former US soldiers who volunteered to fight with Ukrainian forces were arrested in eastern Ukraine in early June.
Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh were filmed in videos released by Russian state television last week, but the circumstances under which they are being held are unclear.
Washington insisted that Russia must treat them humanely, as prisoners of war, under the Geneva Conventions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told NBC News that the two Americans “endangered” Russian soldiers and “should be held accountable for these crimes.”
He claimed they were “mercenaries” engaged “in illegal activities” and therefore not protected by the Geneva Conventions.
“We obviously strongly disagree and have made that clear to the Russian government,” a senior US official told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.
The American diplomats argue that the Russian authorities did not give them any direct information about these two captured militants.
“As far as I know, we don’t know anything officially. So one of our queries is: who are you detaining when you are detaining someone and where are they? And if you arrest someone, you have an obligation to treat them with respect for Geneva,” said this official.