The Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group is “gloating” over the death of an American who volunteered to fight on behalf of Ukraine in Bakhmut, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
A graphic video uploaded to a pro-Russia Telegram channel on Tuesday features Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin inspecting documents belonging to former U.S. Army Green Beret Nicholas Maimer and appearing to stand over his body.
Maimer’s uncle Paul Maimer and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Perry Blackburn, who helped recruit the 45-year-old Boise, Idaho, native to fight in Ukraine last year, both confirmed the identity of the body in the video to The Idaho Statesman.
ISW, a U.S.-based think tank, said in a report published on Tuesday that the video was evidence of “Wagner’s promotion of violence through the use of widely-shared graphic video footage.”
“Prigozhin’s video emphasizes Wagner’s continual promotion of brutality and glorification of war, as the video appeared to showcase Wagner gloating over the death of an American and amplified the graphic nature of his death,” the report states.
Blackburn told the Statesman that Maimer was killed when a Russian artillery shell struck a building where he was stationed in the war-torn city, which has been a focal point of fighting for a majority of the war.
“From what I understand, he was providing them with firsthand training in that area so that they can continue to do the fight, and he got caught behind enemy lines,” said Blackburn. “Having Nick die over there, it’s just brutal.”
Paul Maimer told the newspaper that his nephew “lived a lot” in his 45 years and that he had joined the fight in Ukraine for “humanitarian” reasons. He hoped that his nephew would be given a veteran’s burial.
“We’re just trying to get him home for proper burial,” Paul Maimer said. “I think he’s deserving to be put to rest in a veterans cemetery. He might not have been fighting for our country, but he was fighting for the right reasons.”
The U.S. Department of State has not officially confirmed Maimer’s death, although a spokesperson told multiple outlets that the department was “seeking additional information” and “aware of the reports of the death of a U.S. citizen in Bakhmut.”
Newsweek has reached out via email to the State Department for comment.
In a video posted to Facebook a few weeks after arriving to Ukraine in May 2022, Maimer said that he was putting “together a training program” for the Ukrainian military that he hoped would “help save some lives.”
The State Department has warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Ukraine due to the war, while urging any remaining Americans to “depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”
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