Jordan Gately, described as “truly a hero”, was shot dead in Sievierodonetsk, a key city in Russia’s efforts to advance in eastern Ukraine, his loved ones said in an emotional tribute shared to Facebook.
Dean Gatley wrote on Facebook: “Yesterday (10/06/22) we received the devastating news that our son, Jordan, has been shot and killed in the city of Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine.
“Jordan left the British Army in March this year to continue his career as a soldier in other areas. The war against Europe had begun so, after carful consideration, he went to the Ukraine to help.”
His family said they had received several communications from his team in Ukraine telling them of Jordan’s “wealth of knowledge, his skills as a soldier and his love of his job.”
The public post continues: “His team say they all loved him, as did we, and he made a massive difference to many peoples lives, not only soldiering, but also by training the Ukrainian forces.
“Jordan and his team were so proud of the work they were doing and he often told me that the missions they were going on were dangerous, but necessary.
“He loved his job and we are so proud of him. He truly was a hero and will forever be in our hearts.”
Sievierodonetsk has become epicentre of the battle for control over the industrialised Donbas region in the east, made up of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.
Parts of the city have been pulverised in some of the bloodiest fighting since Moscow began its invasion.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Sunday that Ukrainian and Russian forces were still fighting street by street in Sievierodonetsk. He said that while Russian forces have taken most of the city, Ukrainian troops remain in control of an industrial area and chemical plant where hundreds of civilians are sheltering.
Reports of former soldier Gately’s death come just days after two British men captured while fighting for Ukraine were been sentenced to death in a court in a Russian-backed separatist state.
Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were tried in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in what observers denounced as “a disgusting Soviet era show trial”.
They were captured in April while fighting for Ukrainian forces against Russian invaders in Mariupol.
The British men were sentenced alongside a Moroccan national, Brahim Saadoun, who reportedly had been a student studying in Kyiv before he was also detained in April.
All were accused by Russia and Kremlin-backed Donetsk separatists of being “mercenaries” and sentenced to death after being accused of “terrorism”.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss has called the sentencing a “sham judgement” and insisted that the UK would continye “to do everything we can to support them.”
Ms Truss said: “I utterly condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine.
“They are prisoners of war. This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy.
“My thoughts are with the families.”
The trial took place in the DPR – one of two breakaway Russian-backed entities in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine that Russia says it is fighting to liberate from Ukrainian forces.