Two Britons missing in Ukraine have been killed while trying to carry out a humanitarian evacuation in the east of the country, the Foreign Office has confirmed.
Chris Parry, 28, and his colleague Andrew Bagshaw, 47 – who held dual British and New Zealand nationality – had been trying to evacuate an elderly woman from Soledar when their car was hit by an artillery shell, said Bagshaw’s family said in a statement.
The men were working as volunteers, helping people flee the frontline of the war Russia started in February 2022.
In an earlier statement, the Parry family announced “with great sadness” that the two men had passed away. Paying tribute to Chris, he said: “His selfless determination to help the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his large family extremely proud.
“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 and many abandoned animals. He is I can’t say how much he will be missed, but he will forever be in our hearts.
Bagshaw’s parents, Professor Philip and Dame Susan Bagshaw, who founded the Canterbury Charity Hospital, said they were among ‘many parents mourning the deaths of their sons and daughters’, adding: ‘We urge the civilized countries of the world to stop this immoral war and help Ukrainians rid their homeland of an aggressor.
“The world must stand strong and stand with Ukraine, giving it the military support it needs now and helping it rebuild its shattered country after the war.”
Parry, believed to be a running coach for Cheltenham, recently told Sky News he had traveled to frontline towns and villages to evacuate residents.
He said, “I take each day as it comes. Sometimes when you see pretty terrible things, it stays with you. But you have a job. You are in a healing position and as soon as you pick up these people you have to get out and get away from the artillery, which keeps exploding around us.
Bagshaw traveled to Ukraine from New Zealand and had delivered aid and evacuated citizens, according to a statement provided to the Guardian by the group Kiwi Aid and Refugee Evacuation.
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it offered “our condolences to the Bagshaw and Parry families at this difficult time”. The statement added: “For reasons of confidentiality, no further information will be provided.”
In August, Bagshaw, a genetics researcher, told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that he had been evacuating mainly elderly people from the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine for about a month.
Earlier in January, the leader of the Russian Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed his forces had found the body of one of the men. In a statement posted on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin did not mention the name of the deceased man but said documents belonging to the two Britons were found on his body.
The statement was released alongside a photo that appeared to show passports bearing the names of Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry.
The couple were last known to have traveled from Kramatorsk to Soledar in eastern Ukraine on January 6. The salt mining town has suffered heavy fighting as part of Moscow’s months-long offensive to seize the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.