The body of one of two British volunteer aid workers reported missing in eastern Ukraine has been found this week, mercenaries from Russia’s notorious Wagner Group said.
The paramilitary organization posted about the discovery on Wednesday and shared photos of passports bearing the names of Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry.
“Today the body of one of them was found. Documents for both Britons were discovered with him,” said the Wagner statement. It did not identify the dead man or give details on where the body was discovered.
Ukrainian police said Monday they were looking for the two volunteers who went missing in east Ukraine — the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
Ukrainian police said Bagshaw, 48, and Parry, 28, were last seen Friday morning leaving the city of Kramatorsk en route to the salt mining town of Soledar, which has been largely destroyed due to intense fighting in recent days.
The Wagner Group claimed to have captured the ravaged town, but Ukrainian officials said its forces were still defending it.
The two British men were reported missing Saturday evening after contact with them was lost.
A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office has not confirmed the information relayed by the Wagner Group but said it was supporting the families of the two missing aid workers.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office later stated that the reports concerning the British citizens were “deeply concerning.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information on the Britons and only learned of their disappearance from the media.
He also said he had read in Russian news reports that Bagshaw and Parry were in Ukraine as foreign fighters, but the families of the two men have denied that claim.
Parry’s loved ones said earlier this week they were “very proud” that he had traveled to Ukraine to help evacuate elderly and disabled people.
Parry, a running coach from Cheltenham, said in a Jan. 3 interview with a Sky News journalist in the city of Bakhmut that he had been driving to towns and villages on the frontline to carry locals to safety.
“I take each day as it comes. Sometimes when you see some pretty terrible things it does stay with you,” he said. “But you’ve got a job. You’re in a position of care and as soon as you pick these people up you’ve got to get out and get away from the artillery, which is constantly going off around us.”
Bagshaw’s parents, who live in New Zealand, said he had been in Ukraine delivering food and medicine to the local population, reported BBC News.
Philip and Dame Susan Bagshaw described their son — a genetics researcher by training — as “a very intelligent, independently minded person,” according to a statement provided to The Guardian by the group Kiwi Aid and Refugee Evacuation.
“Andrew’s parents love him dearly and are immensely proud of all the work he has been doing delivering food and medicines and assisting elderly people move from near the battlefront of the war,” the nonprofit added.
With Post wires