Two missing Britons killed in Ukraine while evacuating citizens from Soledar

Two Britons missing in Ukraine were killed while trying to carry out a humanitarian evacuation in the east of the country, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Chris Parry, 28, and his colleague Andrew Bagshaw, 47 – who held dual UK and New Zealand citizenship – had been attempting the evacuation of an elderly woman from Soledar when their car was hit by an artillery shell, Bagshaw’s family said in a statement.

The men had been working as volunteers, helping people escape from the frontline of the war.

In a statement, the Parry family paid tribute to Chris, saying: “His selfless determination in helping the old, young and disadvantaged there has made us and his larger family extremely proud.

“He found himself drawn to Ukraine in March in its darkest hour at the start of the Russian invasion and helped those most in need, saving over 400 lives plus many abandoned animals. It is impossible to put into words how much he will be missed but he will forever be in our hearts.”

Bagshaw’s parents, Prof Philip and Dame Susan Bagshaw, who founded the Canterbury Charity hospital, said they were among “many parents who grieve the deaths of their sons and daughters”, adding: “We urge the civilised countries of the world to stop this immoral war and to help the Ukrainians to rid their homeland of an aggressor.

“The world needs to be strong and stand with Ukraine, giving them the military support, they need now and, help to rebuild their shattered country after the war.”

Parry, reportedly a running coach from Cheltenham, had recently told Sky News that he had been driving to towns and villages on the frontline to evacuate residents.

He said: “I take each day as it comes. Sometimes when you see some pretty terrible things it does stay with you. But you’ve got a job. You’re in a position of care and as soon as you pick these people up you’ve got to get out and get away from the artillery, which is constantly going off around us.”

Bagshaw, a genetics researcher, travelled to Ukraine from New Zealand last April, his parents said, and would often send stories and photos via WhatsApp until September, when he moved into more dangerous parts of the country and stopped contacting them regularly.

“He set off with a rucksack and travel guide and nothing more,” his father said at a news conference in Christchurch on Wednesday.

“We did try to convince him not to go,” Philip Bagshaw said. “We rapidly realised it was a waste of time.”

“We are told hundreds of people were saved by him and his colleagues under the most amazing of circumstances that the military will tell you they would never venture into,” he said.

Andrew’s mother accused Russia of genocide.

“They’re starving the people out of there,” Susan Bagshaw said. “It’s totally immoral and war crimes go on every day.”

New Zealand’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it extended “condolences to the Bagshaw and Parry families at this difficult time”.

Earlier in January the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed his forces had found the body of one of the men. In a statement published on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin did not mention the name of the dead man but said documents belonging to both Britons had been found on his body.

The statement was posted alongside a photo that appeared to show passports bearing the names of Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry.

The pair were last known to have been travelling from Kramatorsk to Soledar, in east Ukraine, on 6 January. The salt mining town has endured heavy fighting as part of Moscow’s months-long offensive to capture Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.