A 55-year-old American-born investment banker has died while fighting against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Simon Ostrovsky of Vice News reported.
Mark Gregory Paslawsky, a dual U.S.-Ukrainian citizen who Vice News named only as “Franko” when he was revealed to be fighting in the country earlier this month, was killed on Tuesday in the town of Ilovaysk.
Paslawsky was a lone American in the Donbas battalion, a unit of volunteers he had been serving alongside for more than two months. In Vice’s first report on him, Paslawsky said he “insisted on being a private” in a six-man squad, despite his alluding to having previous experience in the U.S. military.
As it turns out, Paslawsky was a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and served with the U.S. Army Rangers until the age of 32, according to Vice. A member of his unit told Vice he thought he may have held the rank of major, “but he never talked about it.”
Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko confirmed Paslawsky’s death in a Facebook post, and shared more background on his story (via Google Translate):
“When I asked him why he was a citizen of the United States in the past to go and fight for Ukraine, he said these words: ‘Ukraine is my second home. I’m not going back to the United States. I love Ukraine and the duty of every citizen and men to defend their homeland when it was threatened over!'”
Before he joined the Donbas battalion, Paslawsky was working in the financial sector in Kiev and Kharkiv, Ukraine, as well as Moscow, according to Vice.
Here is Vice’s original video report on him:
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