Three American troops that a Russian media outlet claimed had been killed in Ukraine are all alive, and none are in Ukraine, international media reported quoting National Guard statement.
The three men described by Russian website Pravda as slain American “mercenaries” were deployed to Ukraine with the Tennessee National Guard in 2018 as part of a multinational training mission to support the Ukrainian military. All three had come back to the US by 2019, the Guard said.
Pravda had reported three Tennessee National Guard members were killed in Marinka, Ukraine, and labeled them “mercenaries.” However, the National Guard refuted the allegations in a statement the same day.
“They are accounted for, safe and not, as the article headline erroneously states, US mercenaries killed in Donetsk People’s Republic,” the office of the Tennessee Adjutant General said.
Russian channels on messaging app Telegram and the Pravda.ru Facebook page had posted a photo of a Tennessee state flag that had the men’s names written on it. Telegram posts said the flag had been found in a backpack near the remains of “militants” killed in Marinka, a small city in eastern Ukraine.
But neither the Telegram posts nor Pravda provided evidence that the flag was in the possession of any American killed in Ukraine this year. It’s possible that the flag, if authentic, was a gift from the prior Tennessee National Guard deployment to Ukraine.
There are no National Guard deployments to Ukraine at present. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin moved Florida National Guard members out of the country in February in advance of the Russian invasion, sending them elsewhere in Europe.