Tragic shooting of American journalist in Ukraine was likely committed by Ukrainian forces, not Russians
Brent Renaud, an American filmmaker and journalist, was 51 years old.
On Sunday morning, Brent Renaud, an American filmmaker and journalist who had previously been with The New York Times, was tragically killed while reporting on the refugee crisis arising from the Russia-Ukraine war.
It was reported in the corporate press, in almost unanimous fashion, that Russia was responsible for his passing, even though no evidence had emerged to confirm this claim, which was disseminated by Ukrainian officers at the crime scene.
In a moment's notice, powerful world leaders and individuals routinely condemned Russia for the tragic death of the American citizen. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and State Department Spokesman Ned Price were two of many to show their contempt for Moscow’s alleged act.
There’s just one big problem with that narrative.
All of the available evidence we have points to the Ukrainians, not the Russians, being responsible for the tragic shooting of Renaud.
This morning, Renaud and his crew, which had been contracted with Time Magazine, were traveling through the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city, and on their way to document the plight of the refugee situation.
The Ukrainians’ Side
According to the Ukrainian soldiers on the scene, Renaud’s vehicle came under fire from Russian forces, resulting in his death. After Renaud was killed, Ukrainian police and public affairs officials took videos and photos of Renaud’s still warm body, and posted the display on the internet for the world to see.
Renaud’s body was put on display, they said, to showcase the indiscriminate brutality of the Russians.
Andrey Nebitov, the leader of the National Police for the Kiev region, was one of the first, if not the first Ukrainian official to accuse Russian troops of killing Renaud. Several other Ukrainian officials then echoed Nebitov’s claims, describing the Russians as responsible.
But since the initial Ukrainian PR campaign, compelling evidence, in addition to multiple eyewitness testimony, has emerged to tell a very different story of the day’s events.
The Real Story
Shortly after the incident occurred, a video was posted to social media, with Renaud’s body on display in the background. In the video (CONTENT WARNING), a Ukrainian soldier says the shooting occurred in the settlement of Romanovka.
The location of the incident is very significant, because it established that the shooting took place well within a swath of territory that remains within the lines controlled by Ukrainian forces. Now, it’s certainly possible that troop movements shifted in those early hours, but there is no documented evidence of Russian troops being anywhere near the crime scene, before during, or after the incident. The Russians have in recent days repeatedly shelled the entire area, but Renaud was killed by nearby gunfire.
Another major piece of information came out earlier this evening, when The New York Times confirmed that the incident occurred at a Ukrainian checkpoint.
“Capt. Oleksandr Bogai, the deputy chief of police in Irpin, said Mr. Renaud was shot in the head when Russian forces fired at his car, which was being driven by a local civilian across a Ukrainian checkpoint near the northern border of Irpin.”
This again establishes that Renaud had been moving through Ukrainian, not Russian checkpoints.
Now, here’s where the most important piece of testimony comes into play.
Our most important eyewitness is Juan Arrendondo, Renaud’s colleague, who was physically in the vehicle with him at the time they came under fire. Arrendondo was interviewed earlier in the day from a Ukrainian hospital, where he discussed what happened at the scene of the chaotic incident.
I’ve highlighted the significant portions of the brief interview, but feel free to watch it yourself below.
“We crossed the checkpoint and they started shooting at us,” Arrendondo started. “So the driver turned around, and they kept shooting at us … I saw him being shot in the neck, and we got split, and I got pulled into the … ambulance, I don’t know.”
This is a critical piece of information because it rules out the possibility that Renaud died from possible Russian shelling or a Russian sniper of some sort. Arrendondo, who is by far our most reliable source for this incident, makes it clear that the shooting came from the direction of the checkpoint. And The New York Times, backed by other sources, have established the area as a Ukrainian checkpoint. And in addition to that, the most recent maps of troop positions show the scene of the crime as an area that remains controlled by Ukrainian forces.
In all likelihood, Brent Renaud was killed by Ukrainian forces. And instead of taking responsibility for the tragic shooting, the Ukrainians used Renaud’s death as an instrument to advance a propaganda campaign against their enemy.
Rest In Peace, Brent Renaud.