A former member of the U.S. special forces was killed this week in Ukraine, American officials said Friday. They said he was not fighting in an official capacity.
Daniel W. Swift is a former member of the Navy SEALs who has been listed in official records as having deserted since March 2019. The Navy did not provide further information about his U.S. military record, but said, “We cannot speculate as to why the former Sailor was in Ukraine.”
Swift joined the Navy in 2005 and a SEAL unit in 2007. He would leave the service and return in 2015, rejoining the SEALs a year later.
Rolling Stone reported that Adam Thiemann, a former U.S. Army Ranger who had fought in Ukraine with Swift and stayed in contact with his platoon, told the magazine that on the night of Jan. 14 and into the next morning Swift was involved in an operation in Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Russian forces launched an anti-personnel rocket-propelled grenade at Swift and two other soldiers, knocking them down.
“An American intelligence official, who first told Rolling Stone about Swift’s death, said he suffered a massive traumatic brain injury and died early Thursday morning,” the magazine reported.
The Navy reported he died Wednesday.
At least five other Americans are known to have died fighting in Ukraine, according to State Department statements and reports from individual families.
The U.S. government has discouraged Americans from going to fight for Ukraine, citing concerns that they may be captured by Russian forces and held hostage. At least 6,000 people contacted the Ukrainian embassy in Washington during the opening weeks of the war seeking information about how to volunteer on behalf of Ukraine.
Half the potential volunteers were quickly rejected for lacking military experience, having a criminal record, or otherwise not being fit to serve, Ukraine’s military attaché said last year.
An unknown number of Americans have joined units of foreign fighters supporting Kyiv. Others are volunteering with aid groups and human-rights organizations.
The State Department declined to address Swift’s death specifically but said in a statement that it could confirm the recent death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine.
“We are in touch with his family and providing all possible consular assistance,” the department said.
Associated Press Writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.