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Brave Soldier, Aid Worker and Truth Teller: Story of US-Born Donbass Volunteer Russell Bentley

© SputnikRussell Bentley, a volunteer fighter and blogger from the US in Donetsk People's Republic
Russell Bentley, a volunteer fighter and blogger from the US in Donetsk People's Republic - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.04.2024
Russell Bonner Bentley, call sign "Texas", has passed away at the age of 64, his wife Lyudmila confirmed to Sputnik.
Bentley went missing in Donetsk on April 8, following a Ukrainian artillery attack on the city’s Petrovsky district. Four days later, the Donetsk People's Republic Ministry of Internal Affairs put him on a missing persons list.
Bentley, an American citizen and Texas native, joined the Donbass militia in 2014 and has defended the region's freedom against Ukrainian neo-Nazi forces since then, first as a soldier, then as a war correspondent.
He was born in a well-to-do family in 1960 and grew up in an exclusive area of Dallas called Highland Park. Russell's worldview began to emerge during his teenage years as a result of the Vietnam War and its after-effects. He became an ardent anti-imperialist and anti-racist, seeing Washington's overseas military adventures as an abuse of the sovereign rights of other countries.
When Obama officials and US lawmakers flocked to Ukraine amid the Euromaidan unrest in 2013, Russell had no illusions about their true goals: "When the Maidan started and Victoria Nuland handing out cookies and John McCain and all that, and I knew what the deal was, I knew exactly what was going on," Bentley told Sputnik in April 2022, referring to a string of US overseas invasions and regime changes fomented by American policy-makers.
Russell Bentley, a volunteer fighter and blogger from the US in Donetsk People's Republic - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.04.2024
Sputnik Donbass Correspondent Russell Bentley Dies in Donetsk
A brutal war unleashed by the Kiev regime on Donbass civilians on the heels of the February 2014 coup d'etat in Ukraine became a watershed moment for Russell. He felt that his fate was inextricably bound to that of Donetsk and Lugansk freedom fighters.
Bentley later explained to Sputnik that he crossed the ocean because he admired the Donbass people's courage, steadfastness, and unwillingness to accept the illegitimate regime change carried out by ultra-nationalists and outright Nazis. The war veteran call sign "Texas" used to say that "Nazism is like a disease."
Between 2014 and 2017 he served in the Sut Vremeni (lit. "Essence of Time") combat unit, Vostok Battalion and XAH Spetsnaz Battalion. Together with Donbass volunteers he fought in some very hot spots including Donetsk Airport, Spartak, Avdeyevka, and Yasinovataya.
Baptized as an Orthodox Christian during the hostilities, Russell showed compassion to those in need and despair. He raised funds and delivered humanitarian aid to Donbass elderly, women and children, whose struggles and suffering were completely ignored by the Western mainstream press.
Bentley - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.02.2023
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To break the Western media's silence about the forgotten men and women of Donetsk and Lugansk republics Russell started to work as a war correspondent.
In his first report written for Sputnik in October 2023, Bentley highlighted: "I did not come here to make money or to make a name for myself or to become an "internet star". I came here to fight, to kill the neo-Nazis who were murdering innocent and unarmed Donbass civilians, to defend those civilians, and to stand beside the true Heroes who put their lives on the line to defend Donbass, Russia and the future of humanity. And that is what I have done."

As a Sputnik contributor, Russell provided firsthand insights into Russia's special military operation, liberation of Mariupol, foreign mercenary forces flooding Ukraine and the Kiev regime's intensified attacks on civilians. He interviewed Russian combat veterans and his fellow Americans who travelled to the Donbass war zone to tell the truth about the conflict.

In his last report for Sputnik, Russell told the story of European human aid volunteers who helped the people of Donbass despite facing personal risks. He shared his personal experience of raising funds and gave a few tips on how to provide aid to recipients. "There is a reason people risk their lives and go through great work and hardship and ask nothing in return," Bentley insisted.
A woman wipes away tears near a convoy of vehicles from the 38th Russian humanitarian convoy to Donetsk in September 2015. For many residents of Donbass, humanitarian aid convoys consisting of food, medicines, and basic hygiene products became critical to survival.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.03.2024
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Russell considered the Russian special military operation as the beginning of the end of the Kiev regime's war of aggression against the Donbass, something he had firsthand knowledge of. "The people of Donbass and the volunteers, first of all, understand that Operation Z was absolutely necessary," he told Sputnik in May 2022. "The Russians saved literally hundreds of thousands of human lives by coming in when they did. And the people here, we know that and we appreciate it."

The veteran repeatedly came under Ukrainian fire and emerged unscathed. Once, two chunks of shrapnel came through his sleeping bag barely missing his feet. In 2023, his house in Donetsk was damaged during a Ukrainian HIMARs attack. Fortunately, Bentley and his wife weren't home during the strike.

In Donbass and beyond Russell Bentley has been admired for his bravery, benevolence, self-sacrifice, love for freedom and devotion to his new Fatherland in Donbass.
Sputnik correspondent Russell Bentley has a deep conversation with ‘Electric’, an old friend and comrade from XAH Spetsnaz Battalion.    - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2023
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