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Mercenary from NATO state killed fighting for Ukraine, minister confirms — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

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A Lithuanian fighter has been killed near Artyomovsk in Russia’s Donbass, the Baltic nation’s defense minister has said

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has confirmed reports that a citizen of the Baltic state, which is a member of both the EU and NATO, has been killed in the Ukraine conflict.

According to local media, it marks the first time a Lithuanian has died fighting for Ukraine. Several have also reportedly been wounded in the conflict.

The death of the mercenary, identified as 43-year-old Tadas Tumas, was announced on Friday by Sigitas Maliauskas, who heads a group of Lithuanian instructors working in Ukraine called Mission Snake Island.

According to the group head, Tumas, whose call sign was ‘Giant,’ served in the 92nd Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He was a sapper in the unit, but also performed duties as a driver and scout, he added.

Tumas was killed transporting mines to the front line when the vehicle he was driving was struck by a Russian drone, Maliauskas stated.

He said the strike happened near Artyomovsk (called Bakhmut by Ukraine) in Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic. The city was captured by Moscow’s forces last May.

Vilnius’ defense minister told LRT Radio that information about Tumas’ death had “reached the Lithuanian Embassy in Kiev and us.” Anusauskas also confirmed that the man died near Artyomovsk, but provided no further details.

The farewell ceremony for Tumas will be held on Maidan (Independence) Square in central Kiev. His body will then be cremated, with the ashes to be delivered to Lithuania, according to the outlet ‘15min’.

The former president of Lithuania’s constitutional court, Dainius Zalimas, dedicated a post on Facebook to the slain mercenary. “It hurts so much” to write about the death of “our friend and comrade,” he stressed. Tumas had been fighting for Ukrainian forces since November, and is survived by a wife and two children, Zalimas said.

Earlier this week, the deputy head of the Russian General Staff, Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, said that some NATO troops are fighting against the Russian army in the conflict “disguised as mercenaries.” The foreign specialists control air defense and missile systems, while also forming part of Kiev’s assault detachments, he said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in December that more than 5,800 foreign mercenaries had been killed since the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with most of them coming from Poland, the US and UK.

Moscow has previously stated that mercenaries would not be viewed as legitimate combatants under international law and “the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms.”

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