Two Americans Killed by Russia While Fighting for Ukraine
U.S officials reveal citizens dead after fighting in the Donbas region
Two Americans have been killed by Russian forces while fighting for Ukraine against Vladimir Putin's invasion of the Eastern European nation, according to reports.
"We can confirm the recent deaths of two U.S. citizens in the Donbas region of Ukraine," a State Department spokesperson reportedly told ABC News.
"We are in touch with the families and providing all possible consular assistance."
The State Department did not provide any further information "out of respect to the families during this difficult time."
At least two other Americans have died fighting for Ukraine.
A further two are known to be in Russian captivity and face possible execution.
Stephen Zabielski, 52, was killed in May after stepping on a landmine in Dorozhnyanka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
The father-of-five accidentally stepped on a tripwire while traversing thick vegetation in foggy conditions.
He was working on a mine-clearing mission at the time.
A friend on Facebook said at the time that Zabielski had experience in the US Army, which appealed to young Ukrainian fighters.
"He feared he wouldn't be accepted given our age - but his experience got him the exception," they said.
"Despite our age, we both knew we had a duty given our beliefs.
"Steve remained in Ukraine and gave his life for Ukraine's freedom. He was killed by a landmine.
"He was the child of Polish-Americans, so he knew and understood sacrifice."
His death comes after that of US Marine Corps veteran Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, who was killed in April.
How he died remains unknown.
Cancel was hired through a private military contracting company.
There are also currently two Americans being held captive by Russians: Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, both of Alabama.
They were captured by Russian forces on June 11 when they didn't return to a meeting spot after their group came under heavy fire in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
The two soldiers have appeared in various videos distributed by Russia since their capture.
Previously, the men have appeared frightened, but look calmer in the latest video.
Drueke and Huynh traveled separately to help Ukraine but became friends there in part because of their shared Alabama background, relatives have said.
The US State Department said it was looking into reports that Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces in Ukraine had captured at least two American citizens.
If confirmed, they would be the first Americans fighting for Ukraine known to have been captured since the invasion began on February 24.
Drueke's mother, Lois "Bunny" Drueke, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama spoke to her son on the phone last month for 10 minutes.
Bunny said she believes parts of the conversation did not seem to be coming directly from him.
"It was obvious that there were two things going on," she told Good Morning America (GMA).
"One, I could tell when he was telling me something scripted.
"And the other things he was saying was just the regular conversation, just ordinary conversations that mothers really treasure."
Previously, Drueke, a US Army veteran, and Huynh, a former US Marine, were warned by the Kremlin they faced possible execution for being what Putin's government branded "soldiers of fortune."
The Kremlin said the men were not eligible for the rights afforded to prisoners of war captured by rivals, because they hadn't enlisted for the foreign army they were fighting with.