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Australian man killed in Ukraine, Russia shoots down its own troops

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An Australian man hoping to “beat the odds” again has been killed on the battlefield in Ukraine, DFAT has confirmed.

Trevor Kjeldal, known as ‘Ninja’, was injured and hospitalized in July after fighting to ‘support the people of Ukraine’.

He was reportedly killed during fighting in the Luhansk region.

Earlier this year, the Brisbane man told Channel Nine that he had no intention of returning to Australia after surviving shrapnel to his head.

He said in October that his battalion wanted to support the people of Ukraine and that he would take his chance.

“Ukraine was in trouble and they needed people to help, so we came and helped,” he said.

“I beat the odds once, so let’s see if I can do it again I guess.”

Trevor Kjeldal brushed aside the danger of ‘supporting the people of Ukraine’. Photo: Channel Nine

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday conveyed his condolences to Mr Kjeldal’s family and friends.

“This is tragic news. I remind people that the DFAT advice is that people should not travel to Ukraine,” he said at a press conference in Queensland.

“It’s a dangerous place, but my heart goes out to the family and friends of the gentleman involved.”

Mr Kjeldal’s family said he was “a very dear and beloved one”.

“Our deep sadness at his loss is unfathomable,” the family said in a statement.

“We would like to thank DFAT for their continued assistance in bringing him to our home.

“At this incredibly sad time, we would like to ask the media to respect our privacy as we grieve.”

Consular assistance is being provided to Mr Kjeldal’s family, a DFAT spokesman said on Saturday.

Consular assistance may include support and guidance to families and liaison with local and Australian authorities to help arrange funerals or repatriation of remains.

The Australian government’s advice for Ukraine is no travel.

Russia ‘shoots’ its own troops

Meanwhile, morale is apparently so low among Russian troops that the military can shoot its own soldiers to prevent them from leaving the fight.

The British Ministry of Defense says Russia likely deployed so-called ‘barrier troops’ or ‘blocking units’ for the sole purpose of attacking its own troops.

“These units threaten to shoot down their own retreating soldiers to force offensives and have been used by Russian forces in previous conflicts,” an intelligence briefing said.

“Recently, Russian generals probably wanted their commanders to use weapons against deserters, which may include permission to fire to kill such defaulters after a warning was given.”

It comes as Russian soldiers have been forced out of key positions in Ukraine, including the Russian-occupied Kherson region, where a Ukrainian counter-offensive is underway.

British intelligence said Russian generals would likely want to force soldiers to “maintain defensive positions to the death”.

“The tactics of shooting deserters probably reflect the low quality, low morale and indiscipline of the Russian armed forces.”

Iran supplied Russia

Iran has first acknowledged that it supplied drones to Moscow, but said they had been sent to Ukraine before the war, where Russia has used them to attack power plants and civilian infrastructure.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said a “small number” of drones had been shipped a few months before the February 24 Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Tehran of lying and said Kiev’s forces shot down at least 10 of the unmanned aerial vehicles every day.

In Iran’s most detailed response to date, Amirabdollahian denied that Tehran continued to supply Moscow with drones.

“This fuss made by some western countries that Iran has supplied missiles and drones to Russia to aid the war in Ukraine – the missile part is completely wrong,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

“The drone part is true and we supplied Russia with a small number of drones months before the war in Ukraine,” he said.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has reported an increase in drone attacks on civilian infrastructure, particularly targeting power plants and dams, using Iranian Shahed-136 drones. Russia denies that its forces have used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.

-with MONKEY

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