American journalist killed by Russian forces in Ukraine

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

An American journalist was killed in Irpen, Ukraine, and his partner was injured by Russian forces. Brent Renaud was wearing a New York Times press badge but the newspaper denies he was in Ukraine on assignment for it. The injured journalist was in process of being removed from the war zone as the news broke.


White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was asked about Renaud’s death by host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation. Sullivan was making the rounds on Sunday morning political shows. He told Brennan that he had just learned of Renaud’s death as he prepared to go on-air but that he will meet with colleagues and “measure and execute appropriate consequences” once more information is known.

“This is obviously shocking and horrifying, and I’ve just learned about it as I came onto air here, so I will be consulting with my colleagues, we’ll be consulting with the Ukrainians to determine how this happened and then to measure and execute appropriate consequences as a result of it,” Sullivan told “Face the Nation” when asked about the consequences would be for the Russians killing an American.

“This is part and parcel of what has been the brazen aggression on the part of the Russians where they have targeted civilians, they have targeted hospitals, they have targeted places of worship and they have targeted journalists,” he continued.


Russian troops opened fire in Irpen and Renaud was killed. Andriy Nebytov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, posted a graphic photo, as well as photos of his American passport and NYT press badge on Facebook.

Irpen is located to the west of Kyiv and has been hard hit by Russian forces.

“Irpen, and its surroundings villages, are seeing an absolute humanitarian disaster. Russian soldiers occupied Vorzel, Hostomel, Zabucha and the Mylhailivka-Rubezhivka and won’t let residents leave their own homes,” the city’s former mayor said, according to a group of Ukrainian journalists. The former mayor described Russian forces shooting at homes and shelling hospitals.

Renaud was a 50 year old journalist and award-winning filmmaker. PBS NewsHour correspondent Jane Ferguson tweeted confirmation of Renaud’s death.

In the responses to Ferguson’s tweet, the question of whether Renaud was targeted or not appeared. Renaud’s companion is seen in another tweet describing what happened. Renaud was shot in the neck and left behind, he said, while he was taken to a hospital by ambulance. They were in the same car and they crossed a checkpoint when Russian troops opened fire. The injured journalist didn’t know that Renaud was dead.


Renaud was experienced in reporting from hotspots around the world.

Renaud and his brother Craig Renaud have reported from a number of global hotspots over the past two decades, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt, according to a biography on their website. The pair won a Peabody Award in 2015 for an eight-part documentary for Vice News about a school in Chicago for students with severe emotional issues.

Putin’s forces are continuing an advance into the western side of Ukraine. Sullivan stated that NATO nations will respond to any armed attack in their territory.

The attack on foreign journalists documenting the war in Ukraine comes after Russia fired more than 30 cruise missiles at a military training base located less than 15 miles from Ukraine’s border with Poland, a member of NATO. The strike left 35 people dead, and the training facility is the most westward target hit by Russian forces so far in the 18 days since they invaded Ukraine.

Sullivan warned Sunday that if there is a military attack on NATO territory, it would lead to the invocation of Article 5, which provides that if a NATO ally is the victim of an armed attack, each country in the 30-member alliance will consider it an armed attack against them all and take action.

“If Russia attacks, fires upon, takes a shot at NATO territory, the NATO alliance would respond to that,” he said.

Sullivan noted that President Biden has been clear that the U.S. would work with allies “to defend every inch of NATO territory, and that means every inch.”


This war is far from over and more atrocities like targeted deaths of civilians will continue. Putin has a history of targeting civilians, including with chemical attacks. Sullivan warned Americans to not fall for Russian propaganda when Putin denies chemical attacks, if they come. Putin is accusing NATO nations of using chemical and biological warfare in order to justify a chemical attack.

Sullivan said the U.S. can’t “predict a time or place” of a chemical weapons attack, but warned Russia is preparing for such a move and will try to “pin the blame elsewhere.”

“Nobody should fall for that,” he said. “That is why we’ve gone out so decisively at the United Nations Security Council and elsewhere to rob the Russians of the capacity to pin this on anyone other than themselves. And as the president said on Friday, if in fact the Russians do use chemical weapons in Ukraine, they will pay a severe price.”

Sullivan said the use of weapons of mass destruction by Russia would be a “shocking additional line that [Vladimir] Putin is crossing in terms of his assault on international law and international norms, his assault on the human rights and human dignity of the people of Ukraine.”

Journalists covering the war in Ukraine have done some really good reporting in a war zone. Renaud is the first death reported, let’s hope more do not follow. The brave Ukrainians deserve to have their stories get out as they fight for the sovereignty of their country.


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