State Department confirms death of American citizen trapped in Ukraine by Russian invasion

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has proven quite lethal over the past few weeks for not just Russians and Ukrainians but also for a handful of foreigners who remain in the besieged Eastern European nation for a variety of reasons.

The U.S. State Department confirmed Thursday that another U.S. citizen has been included in the growing death toll caused by Russia’s aggressive military actions, Fox News reported.

“We offer our sincerest to the family on their loss,” a spokesperson for the State Department said without identifying the American victim. “Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”

Death confirmed, though details in dispute

Fox News reported that, according to a Ukrainian Interior Ministry official, the dead American citizen was identified as 68-year-old James W. Hill from Idaho who had been living with his Ukrainian citizen partner Irina in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, which is located along the main northern route Russian forces are using to reach the capital city of Kyiv.

Hill and his partner had been staying in that city so she could receive necessary treatment for multiple sclerosis but eventually became trapped by the Russian advance and endangered by increased Russian attacks on the city by way of airstrikes and artillery shelling.

According to local Ukrainian police in that city, Hill had been killed in a Russian artillery attack on a civilian area of the city. However, according to Hill’s sister, Cheryl Hill Gordon, he was killed by a Russian sniper while waiting in a breadline to receive food, local Idaho outlet KIFI reported.

Hill’s confirmed death, while certainly tragic, was likely not a surprise, at least to any of his family and friends who had been following him on Facebook, where over the past few weeks he had provided an increasingly desperate account of what was happening in his area.

His posts documented the heightened frequency of bombings as well as power outages and shortages of food, medicines, and water, among other things, and took note of the fact that he and his partner were essentially trapped in the city with little hope of escape.

Second U.S. citizen killed by Russian forces

According to CBS News, James Hill is the second confirmed American death in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in late February.

The first was a 50-year-old former journalist turned independent filmmaker named Brent Renaud who was reportedly shot and killed by Russian troops while traveling around the outskirts of Kyiv in search of Ukrainian refugees to interview for a documentary.

Meanwhile, according to the United Nations, at least 816 civilian deaths have been confirmed in Ukraine since the fighting began, including at least 59 children, but those figures are likely lower than the actual death toll.

It remains to be seen if President Joe Biden’s administration will take any sort of action above and beyond mere offerings of condolences for any American lives tragically cut short by Russia’s military advance into Ukrainian territory.

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