‘The people of Ukraine are mourning with you’: Zelensky sends moving letter to family of US journalist shot dead ‘by Russian soldiers’ as fellow journalist says victim ignored warnings so he could ‘film what the world should see’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has written a moving letter to the family of an American journalist allegedly killed by Russians to hail the dead man for shining a light on the darkest outrages of the ongoing conflict.
Brett Renaud, 51, from Arkansas, was working freelance as a filmmaker when he was shot dead in the besieged town of Irpin, 30 miles north west of the center of the capital city Kyiv.
Zelensky, in his letter to the Renaud family, praised his dedication to shining a light ‘against forces of darkness’, and said the Ukrainian people were grieving with them.
‘A talented and brave journalist, Brent lost his life while documenting human tragedy, devastation and suffering of millions of Ukrainians,’ Zelensky wrote.
‘With all his courage and determination, he travelled to the most dangerous war zones to film the unprecedented ruthlessness and evil, also inflicted on our nation by the aggressor state.
‘The people of Ukraine, who are fighting against the Russian regime to defend their homeland and democracy in the world, are mourning with you.’
Zelensky told Renaud’s family that they were ‘thankful to Brent for his professionalism and commitment to the values of compassion, ethics and justice.’
He concluded: ‘May Brent’s life, service and sacrifice inspire generations of people all around the world to stand up in fight for the forces of light against the forces of darkness.’
Renaud’s colleague Juan Arredondo, a 45-year-old World Press Photo award winner and adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School in New York City, was shot and injured. The attack was initially said to have been carried out by Russian soldiers, but that claim has not yet been stood-up.
A Bild photographer who had accompanied the pair to the edge of Irpin said that the Ukrainian military warned them not to go further, but Renaud and Arredondo said they ‘wanted to film what the world should see.’
Ben Ronzheimer told Fox News the two intended to document the flow of refugees leaving Irpin, which marks the edge of the Russian advance towards Kyiv.
‘Nothing is safe here,’ said Ronzheimer. ‘And if you go into Irpin and if you cross there and if you try to get further, every step can mean, yeah, that you get attacked here.’
Brent Renaud, 51, was shot and killed in Ukraine over the weekend, in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin
Renaud, from Arkansas, was working freelance in Ukraine when he was shot and killed
Juan Arredondo, 45, a photojournalist who also teaches at Columbia Journalism School in New York City, was shot and injured alongside Renaud
Ben Ronzheimer, a photojournalist with German outlet Bild, was with Renaud and Arredondo before the fatal shooting of Renaud
Renaud and Arredondo came under attack in Irpin, north west of the capital Kyiv
Volodymyr Zelensky, in a picture released on Monday by the president’s press office, praised Renaud’s bravery
It remains unclear who shot both Renaud and Hall – whether it was advancing Russians, or mistaken Ukrainians – but their shootings are seen of a sign of the lawlessness of the conflict, with Russia bombing civilian targets like hospitals and apartment buildings.
Renaud’s colleague, Arredondo, said in a video shared on social media that he and Renaud had gone to Irpin to film refugees escaping the town, and they were fired on by forces near a checkpoint.
‘We crossed the first bridge in Irpin,’ he said, lying on a hospital stretcher.
‘We were going to film all the refugees leaving. We got into a car.
‘Someone offered to take us to the other bridge and we crossed a checkpoint and they started shooting at us.
‘So the driver turned around, and they kept shooting … and there was two of us. My friend is Brent Renaud and he’s been shot and left behind.’
On Monday, a Fox News reporter, Benjamin Hall, 39, who works as a State Department correspondent, was confirmed injured in Ukraine. His condition was unclear but the British-U.S. citizen was being treated in hospital, Fox colleagues said.
Arredondo was filmed on a hospital stretcher, explaining what had happened
When the interviewer asked how Renaud was, Arredondo replied: ‘I don’t know. I saw he’d been shot in the neck. And we got split.’
The US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told CNN: ‘If in fact an American journalist was killed, it is a shocking and horrifying event. It is one more example of the brutality of Vladimir Putin and his forces as they’ve targeted schools and mosques and hospitals and journalists.
‘And it is why we are working so hard to impose severe consequences on him, and to try to help the Ukrainians with every form of military assistance we can muster, to be able to push back against the onslaught of these Russian forces.’