Mar 13, 2022 - World

American journalist killed in Ukraine

Ukraine war.
A building in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Pierre Crom/Getty Images

A freelancer who previously worked on New York Times projects was killed covering the war in Ukraine, the Times and U.S. State Department confirmed on Sunday.

What they're saying: "We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years," the Times wrote in a statement emailed to Axios.

  • ”Though he had contributed to The Times in the past (most recently in 2015), he was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine," the statement said. "Early reports that he worked for Times circulated because he was wearing a Times press badge that had been issued for an assignment many years ago."

A State Department spokesperson confirmed Renaud's death on Sunday, but declined to give specifics "out of respect for his family's privacy."

Driving the news: It's the first known American journalist to be killed in the war in Ukraine. Renaud was an award-winning video journalist that had also worked on projects for PBS and HBO.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS the killing is "obviously shocking and horrifying. ... I just learned about it as I came on the air here." Sullivan said, adding that the U.S. will be consulting with Ukraine to "measure and execute appropriate consequences."

  • "I will just say that this is part and parcel of what has been a 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."
  • The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The big picture: The war presents an enormous risk for journalists, both in Ukraine and Russia.

  • A Ukrainian camera operator was killed when a TV tower was shelled last week.
  • Russian forces opened fire on Western journalists from Sky News last week.
  • The Times said it would pull all of its journalists out of Russia last week, given the threat of a new fake news law, but it kept journalists on the ground covering the war in Ukraine, as did other news organizations.

Be smart: Journalists are considered civilians under international humanitarian law. More than two dozen governments, including the U.S., have spoken out in support of press freedom surrounding the war.

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of U.S. journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine. This kind of attack is totally unacceptable, and is a violation of international law,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, a program director at the Committee to Protect Journalists.

  • “Russian forces in Ukraine must stop all violence against journalists and other civilians at once, and whoever killed Renaud should be held to account.”

Time in a statement said it was devastated by the loss of Renaud, who "was in the region working on a TIME Studios project focused on the global refugee crisis."

  • "Our hearts are with all of Brent’s loved ones. It is essential that journalists are able to safely cover this ongoing invasion and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine," wrote Time Editor in Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal and President and COO Ian Orefice.

Editor's note: This post has been updated with additional details throughout.

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