British volunteer Christopher Parry was interviewed in Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast on January 3, just days before he and another volunteer, Andrew Bagshaw, were reported missing.
Police said Parry and Bagshaw were involved in volunteer work and were last seen on Friday, January 6, heading to the town of Soledar from Kramatorsk – where fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces has become increasingly intense.
The UK Ministry of Defence said on January 10 that Russia was “likely” to be in control of most of Soledar, after making tactical advances over the last four days.
Police said there was an investigation underway to find the missing pair.
In footage posted by journalist Arnaud De Decker, Parry is heard saying, “a lot of people won’t go anymore,” referring to east Bakhmut, currently occupied by Russian armed forces. “There are people there that want to get out, so I’m willing to go,” Parry says.
De Decker said he filmed the interview on January 3, just three days before Parry was last seen.
In a previous interview with BBC Cornwall, Parry said he was driven to do humanitarian work in Ukraine “as the people here are so lovely.”
The 28-year-old had registered a JustGiving page to provide funds to help “evacuate civilians from the front line in Ukraine by paying for continual vehicle repairs, fuel, equipment etc.”
“Chris was just back from the eastern side of the city, where he was able to save a 51-year-old resident. Over the past months, Chris and Andrew saved dozens of lives, at the risk of their own. They are heroes. I hope for their safe return,” De Decker said. Credit: Arnaud De Decker/@arnauddedecker via Storyful
- So, what's your job here, basically?
CHRISTOPHER PARRY: So, I'm an evacuation driver. I receive requests from family members who've asked us to go and collect their relatives. And we come here and basically go over to the eastern side of Bakhmut, where we were this morning.
I went there, and there was a lady who's 51 years old who had requested herself, actually, to leave because things are getting a bit too hot over there. We arrived. Lots of Ukrainian missiles that are actually going over, flying overhead-- you can hear the whistling-- and a lot of small arms firing and soldiers kind of hiding behind bus stops as we whizzed past looking at us, thinking we're a bit crazy.
- So this is the car that you use?
CHRISTOPHER PARRY: Yep. You kind of need a 4 by 4 because getting over the river is pretty precarious. It's very muddy. So, without one, it's quite difficult. So this is a necessity for us.
- And when you go to the east, how do you orientate yourself?
CHRISTOPHER PARRY: I mean, we've been there a lot. So we kind of know the streets just by sight. But of course, we use Google Maps. And as you get closer to the front, just speak to the Ukrainian soldiers and say, how far until things get a little bit too bad? They'll say, oh, 200 meters, and then you get, OK, I'll leave the guy here, and I'll go on foot for the rest.
- Well, eastern Bakhmut now is a place that a lot of volunteers don't dare to go because it's too dangerous. You go. What does it take to go? I mean--
CHRISTOPHER PARRY: Yeah, it's a toss up. You can either go on foot, which is what some volunteers do. But that means you're spending a lot more time there.
And I feel more vulnerable because you are literally just walking around completely naked. By car, you're more of a target, but you can fly to a destination in two minutes and fly back out in two minutes, hopefully just doing it quick enough that the drones don't spot you. And then you can just park it behind a building and hide.
But yeah, a lot of volunteers won't go anymore. But there are people there who want to get out. So I'm willing to go.
- All right.