A Taiwanese man who volunteered to fight in Ukraine has died on the battlefield, Taipei’s foreign ministry said, believed to be the first person from the island killed in the conflict.
The ministry said a Ukrainian field commander had confirmed the death of 25-year-old Tseng Sheng-kuang, who was serving with a battalion of volunteer soldiers.
A 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 Saturday.
Tseng is thought to be the first Taiwanese casualty of the war in Ukraine.
The ministry said it would help Tseng’s family with arrangements to travel to Ukraine to identify the body.
CNA said Tseng was an army veteran from Taiwan’s indigenous Amis minority.
His wife told the news agency that Tseng travelled to Ukraine in June and they had last been in touch on October 23 when Tseng said he was about to begin a five-day mission.
She then received a message on 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 local media, around 10 Taiwanese people are currently fighting in Ukraine as volunteer soldiers.