Taiwanese man dies fighting in Ukraine war

The 25-year-old man was serving with a battalion of volunteer soldiers. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI - A Taiwanese man who volunteered to fight in Ukraine has died on the battlefield, Taipei’s Foreign Ministry said, and he is believed to be the first person from the island killed in the conflict.

The ministry said a Ukrainian field commander confirmed the death of Mr Tseng Sheng-kuang, 25, who was serving with a battalion of volunteer soldiers.

The cause of death was not given by the ministry, but Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency (CNA) said he was injured during combat in the eastern city of Luhansk and died from blood loss.

“We express our sincere condolences for our countryman who sacrificed his life in the war in Ukraine, and pay tribute to his spirit of assisting the Ukrainians in defending freedom and democracy,” the ministry said in a statement late on Saturday.

Mr Tseng is thought to be the first Taiwanese casualty of the war in Ukraine.

The ministry said it would help Mr Tseng’s family with arrangements to travel to Ukraine to identify the body.

CNA said Mr Tseng was an army veteran from Taiwan’s indigenous Amis minority.

His wife told the news agency that he travelled to Ukraine in June and they had last been in touch on Oct 23 when Mr Tseng said he was about to begin a five-day mission.

She then received a message last Wednesday sent from his mobile phone by a colleague saying he had been injured in fighting and died en route to hospital.

She described her husband as “an honest man with a strong sense of justice”.

There has been an outpouring of sympathy for Ukraine across Taiwan, with the war-torn nation’s plight resonating with many on the island because it faces the constant threat of invasion by neighbouring China.

Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and Russia’s invasion has deepened fears that China might attempt a similar move to annex the island.

According to the local media, around 10 Taiwanese people are currently fighting in Ukraine as volunteer soldiers. AFP

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