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The family of a British humanitarian aid worker who died while on an “evacuation” mission in Ukraine near the eastern frontline has issued a statement to say they are “extremely proud” of their son. British nationals Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry were killed while attempting a “humanitarian evacuation” from the Ukrainian town of Soledar in the first full week of January, Mr Parry’s family said in a statement released through the Foreign Office. The city was claimed by the Russian Wagner Group just a number of days later.
A statement issued on behalf of Mr Parry’s family said: “His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud.
“We never imagined we would be saying goodbye to Chris when he had such a full life ahead of him. He was a caring son, fantastic brother, a best friend to so many and a loving partner to Olga.
“He found himself drawn to Ukraine in March in its darkest hour at the start of the Russian invasion and helped those most in need, saving over 400 lives plus many abandoned animals.
“It is impossible to put into words how much he will be missed but he will forever be in our hearts.”
Mr Parry was originally from Cornwall and had been working as a running coach in Cheltenham when Russia invaded on February 24 last year.
He ran humanitarian aid missions, including supplying equipment and evacuating civilians caught in the conflict, from the frontline.
He helped to rescue residents from the besieged city of Severodonetsk before it fell under Russian occupation in June, before later operating to the east of Lyman.
Wagner Group forces claimed they had found the body of Mr Parry in Soledar, six miles northeast of Bakhmut, on January 11, the week following his disappearance.
Photos of his and Mr Bagshaw’s passport were posted on Telegram channels associated with the Wagner Group.
The Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who runs the mercenary outfit, also claimed they had found Mr Parry’s body.
Caution in reporting claims by the group were issued at the time in light of their history of peddling propaganda and misinformation.
The Ask Wagner hotline allegedly received a request to find the two missing volunteers on January 8 and on Wednesday the documents were discovered, according to outlet ELINT News.
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The Ukrainian police said on January 9 that it had launched an investigation to find the two missing aid workers.
A day later, on Tuesday, January 10, the British Ministry of Defence suggested both Wagner Group fighters and the Russian military were engaged in fighting for Soledar.
In their daily update on Twitter, they wrote: “In the last four days, Russian and Wagner forces have made tactical advances into the small Donbas town of Soledar and are likely in control of most of the settlement.”
Soledar and Bakhmut have been described as a “meat grinder” by Ukrainian soldiers, owing to the sheer levels of devastation wrought on the cities by Russian forces and the subsequent loss of life.
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