A Canadian medic serving in Ukraine has been killed in action, according to his family, and is being mourned by members of Ukraine’s foreign legion.
Gregory Tsekhmistrenko was working with Ukraine’s Black Team in Bakhmut, a city in the eastern region of Donetsk, when he was killed in an assault that saw several others wounded by the Wagner Group, Russia’s notorious mercenary force.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) initially declined to give CTV News official confirmation of his death on Monday, citing security concerns. But in a followup email on Tuesday, a department spokesperson said GAC “is aware of the death of a Canadian citizen.”
“We are in contact with local authorities and with the family and are providing consular services,” the statement said. “Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed.”
On Monday, CTV News was able to speak to two other Canadian members of the foreign legion, and Tsekhmistrenko’s sister Alisa Suprunova over social media, to confirm his death.
In a series of messages to CTV News, Suprunova confirmed that he was killed by Wagner in the battle for Bakhmut. She found out about her brother’s death from consolation messages appearing on his Instagram page, and further details from members of his unit.
American journalist Nicholas Laidlaw, who previously interviewed Tsekhmistrenko, paid tribute to him online, along with other Ukrainian and Canadian soldiers, saying he was “the type of man whose personality and commitment to duty was something myself and many others admired.”
Laidlaw told CTV News in a series of messages Sunday that he was in contact with Tsekhmistrenko’s unit commander, who told him that the Black Team was “up all night” trying to recover his body.
CTV News is unable to independently verify this information at this time.
“His courage under fire, his resilience to stress, sense of humour and humanity is something that doesn’t come along very often,” Laidlaw wrote in his post. “The world is now lesser without his presence.”