An Australian soldier who fought to defend the ‘freedom of the Ukrainian people’ has died, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Sage O’Donnell, 24, from Victoria, volunteered to fight in the war-torn eastern European nation after Russia’s bloody invasion in February.
It’s understood Mr O’Donnell previously served in the Australian Army as an artillery observer and a rifleman.
His heartbroken mother said in a statement released by DFAT that her son was a ‘kind-hearted’ young man who wanted to help the people of Ukraine.
Aussie Sage O’Donnell (pictured), 24, has died fighting overseas to ‘defend the freedom of the Ukrainian people’
Mr O’Donnell volunteered to fight in the war-torn eastern European nation after Russia’s bloody invasion in February (pictured, Ukrainian soldiers)
‘Sage died in action defending the freedom of the Ukrainian people. Sage has always believed in defending country, people and the right for freedom,’ she said.
‘Sage chose to take action based on his empathy for the Ukrainian people, and the injustice that is taking place.
‘He fell in love with Ukraine and its culture, and was humbled by the kindness and hospitality within his new community.’
Mr O’Donnell’s mother said her son always ‘chose to live his life true to his beliefs and cause’ and ‘passionately upheld his values’.
She added that his family were ‘devastated by our recent loss of Sage’.
‘Sage was much loved by his friends and family. Sage’s humour, kind heart, values and laughter will be dearly missed,’ she said.
Mr O’Donnell’s mother claimed her son served in the Australian Army and volunteered to fight overseas as he wanted to help the people of Ukraine
DFAT said they were providing consular assistance to Mr O’Donnell’s family.
It’s unknown exactly where or when Mr O’Donnell was killed.
DFAT has not provided any further details about Mr O’Donnell or the circumstances surrounding his death.
A Twitter account that provides updates on the war between Ukraine and Russia claims he died in the city of Bakhmut.
The town of Bakhmut was heavily bombarded with missile strikes over Christmas.
The death of Mr O’Donnell comes as Russian president Vladimir Putin revealed he was open to holding talks with Ukraine.
Apartment buildings in Bakhmut damaged from missile strikes are seen. One Twitter account claimed Mr O’Donnell died in Bakhmut
The interior of apartment buildings damaged from missile strikes is pictured, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, during intense shelling on Christmas Day at the frontline in Bakhmut, Ukraine
In an interview with state television about the war in Ukraine, excerpts of which were released on Boxing Day, Putin said that Russia is ‘prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes’.
Putin told Rossiya 1 state television today: ‘We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are.’
The Kremlin has repeated this sentiment in recent months, as its invasion of Ukraine, which was launched in February, continues to lose momentum.
Despite the Russian president’s comments, the Kremlin has been ramping up its attacks on the south and east of the country over the Christmas period – a clear sign that peace isn’t imminent.
Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke with a journalist on Russian state TV about the war against Ukraine, excerpts of which were released today
More than 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine and half of Russian tanks destroyed, with stockpiles of shells, missiles and ammunition also depleted.
A country-wide air raid alert was announced twice on Sunday alone, and three missiles hit throughout the afternoon in the city of Kramatorsk in the partially occupied Donetsk region, according to local officials.
The missiles hit an industrial area of the city, and there weren’t any casualties, according to the Ukrainian governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Kyrylenko said that the city of Avdiivka was also attacked on Sunday with six rounds of shelling, and that a woman was wounded there.
This photograph taken on December 25, 2022, shows Sviatohirsk Cave Monastery, ‘an Orthodox Christian monastery’, partially damaged by shelling in the town of Sviatohirsk, in Donetsk region
Air raids continued across the country on Christmas day, with Ukrainian military personnel remaining on heightened alert. Picured: A Ukrainian soldier drives an armoured carrier on a road in the Donetsk region
Elsewhere in the frontline region, around the city of Bakhmut, where fierce battles have been underway in recent weeks, intense shelling has been reported.
But Russian forces were struggling to keep up the pace of their offensive, a US-based think tank reported this weekend.
‘Russian forces’ rate of advance in the Bakhmut area has likely slowed in recent days, although it is too early to assess whether the Russian offensive to capture Bakhmut has culminated,’ the Institute for the Study of War wrote in its recent update.
The think tank cited Russian military bloggers, who it said have recently acknowledged ‘that Ukrainian forces in the Bakhmut area have managed to slightly slow down the pace of the Russian advance around Bakhmut and its surrounding settlements.’