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Russian media report about American troops being killed in Ukraine is false, National Guard says

The three men described by Russian website Pravda.ru 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.

Two of the three remain in the Tennessee National Guard and are in Tennessee, a US official told CNN on Friday, while one of them has left the Guard but is alive and has not been in Ukraine during the 2022 war.

“They are accounted for, safe and not, as the article headline erroneously states, US mercenaries killed in Donetsk People’s Republic,” the Guard said, attributing the information to the office of the Tennessee Adjutant General.

To justify the claim that the three men were killed in the current fighting, Russian channels on messaging app Telegram and the Pravda.ru Facebook page 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.ru 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.

The Russian government and Russian media outlets, which are under tight state control, have repeatedly made false claims about the war.
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.
American civilian Jimmy Hill was among the people killed this week by a Russian attack on Chernihiv, a city in northern Ukraine.

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