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US nationals among foreign mercenaries killed in Ukraine: Russia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ukrainian troops carry rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles toward the city of Irpin, northwest of Kiev, March 13, 2022. (File photo by AFP)

Russia says several US nationals were among the foreign fighters killed in Russian airstrikes in Kharkov region in northeastern Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that Russian aircraft had struck “the positions of the nationalist unit Kraken and the units of foreign mercenaries” near the village of Andreyevka.

“More than 100 militants were killed, including up to 20 American mercenaries,” said spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov.

He said the Russian forces hit other targets in eastern Ukraine and Donbass, destroying seven command centers and intercepting six drones.

The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed that Russian forces had shelled several regions near Kharkov, but did not report any losses.

Russia launched the military offensive against Ukraine on February 24. President Vladimir Putin said at the time that one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in April that several foreign fighters from different countries are fighting in Ukraine to support Kiev. Konashenkov said back then that 6,824 foreign ‘mercenaries’ from 63 states arrived in Ukraine to fight against the Russian Armed Forces.

Since the war began, the United States has been providing Kiev with military aid, including at least 16 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) systems.

The US Army declared last week that it will deploy 260 more troops to Europe in support of its NATO allies.

"This temporary deployment is in response to the invasion of Ukraine and is not a permanent change to the overall Army force posture in Europe," the army said in a statement. Troops will help “support the United States’ unrelenting commitment to our European and NATO allies” during the fall deployment, it added.

The army, however, did not reveal where the soldiers would deploy in Europe, though the Pentagon sent troops in the early months of the war to NATO member nations near Ukraine, including Germany and Poland.

There are nearly 100,000 American forces in Europe now – up from about 80,000 prior to Russia’s launch of its campaign in Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly warned that US and NATO military aid and shipments of weapons systems to Ukraine only add fuel to the conflict.

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