A retired US Army Special Forces soldier has been identified as the American citizen killed by Russian artillery in the embattled city of Bakhmut this week, according to a close friend and the founder of a non-profit group working in Ukraine, APA reports citing CNN.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Maimer was in a building in Bakhmut that collapsed after being hit by artillery fire, according to Retired Lt. Col. Perry Blackburn, founder of the non-profit AFGFree, with which Maimer was working in Ukraine.
Ukrainians who were with Maimer believed he was either trapped in the collapsed building or killed by a “barrage” of Russian artillery fire, Blackburn said.
“They got in the position that they were, artillery started coming in heavy and the building started to collapse. That’s when most of the Americans and Ukrainians there were able to escape. Unfortunately, Nick was not able to escape,” an American friend of Maimer in Ukraine also told CNN.
Confirmation of Maimer’s death comes after the leader of Russian private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed to show the body of an American in a video posted on the Wagner Telegram group on Tuesday.
A pro-Kremlin military blogger, Alexander Simonov, introduces the video saying “we are advancing to the advanced positions of the PMC Wagner in the western regions of Artyomovsk,” the Russian name for Bakhmut.
Prigozhin is shown inspecting a body, and what he claims are US identification documents.
Prigozhin says, “So we will hand him over to the United States of America, we’ll put him in a coffin, cover him with the American flag with respect because he did not die in his bed as a grandpa but he died at war and most likely a worthy [death], right?”
A soldier claims that the man was returning fire when he died. Prigozhin replies, “He was shooting back; he died in the battle, so we will hand over his documents tomorrow morning and pack everything, right?”
Prigozhin and Wagner group frequently post videos for propaganda purposes, and often mix real footage with propaganda claims.
CNN cannot verify the authenticity of what is shown in the video, and Maimer’s family did not return CNN’s request for comment.
However, Maimer’s uncle Paul confirmed to the Idaho Statesman that the body in the video was Maimer’s.