The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has confirmed that a soldier on leave has been killed in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.
According to NZDF, the soldier now named as Corporal Dominic Abelen was on leave without pay and not on active duty at the time of their death.
Further details have been released with the New Zealand government saying that he was a well-liked and respected soldier by his comrades.
“The New Zealand Army will work closely with the family of the soldier to offer support at this deeply sad time.”
His dad, Bryce Abelen paid tribute to his son saying that he “was always thinking of others”.
“He didn’t tell us he was going to Ukraine until he was there. He knew we would talk him out of it. He also knew the risks of going there but still went to fight for them.
“A kind, gentle man with the most infectious smile that you couldn’t help but smile back.
“I’m extremely proud of my children and especially Dominic for standing up and doing what he thought was right. He leaves a massive hole in all our hearts.”
It’s reported by Stuff NZ that he was part of the UK based Royal NZ Infantry Regiment’s 2/1 Battalion and had travelled to the front line in Ukraine as part of their foreign legion.
The New Zealand government had sent over 100 soldiers to the UK where they have been providing Ukrainian forces with weapon training.
Another Kiwi soldier who was fighting along side Mr Abelen said they were carrying out a joint operation with Ukrainian forces to take back a trench system on the front when there were bombarded by Russian soldiers.
According to the solider, Mr Abelen was killed instantly but called a “warrior until the end”.
Former NZDF commanding officer Tenby Powell told Today FM that he has been asked to bring Mr Abelen back to New Zealand.
“I feel very honoured to be asked to do that,” he said.
“The intention is to drape him in a New Zealand flag and make sure he has all the care a soldier in the New Zealand Defence Force deserves on his way back.”
Mr Powell also paid tribute to him on Twitter.
“It was a sad day for all New Zealanders yesterday as one of our finest was KIA fighting for freedom and democracy,” he said.
“RIP brother- we will work together to bring you home. AKE AKE KIA KAHA. ONWARD.”