A veteran sniper with the Canadian Armed Forces has joined the ranks of a foreign legion in Ukraine, responding to president Volodymyr Zelenksky’s call for foreign fighters to combat the Russian assault.
The veteran identified as “Wali” entered Ukraine from Poland with a group of British and Canadian veterans last week, sheltering in a renovated home to join Ukraine forces and a growing battalion of volunteer citizen soldiers, according to the CBC.
Wali served with the Royal Canadian Infantry’s 22nd Regiment in Kandahar during the war in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2011 and traveled to Iraq as a volunteer foreign fighter embedded with Kurdish forces in 2015 to combat Isis.
In June 2017, an unidentified Canadian special forces sniper fired a McMillan Tac-50 rifle to fatally shoot an Isis militant in Mosul from more than two miles away, among the longest-recorded kills.
The 40-year-old computer programmer said he missed his son’s first birthday, the “hardest part” of his decision to travel to Ukraine, according to the CBC.
“A week ago I was still programming stuff,” he said. “Now I’m grabbing anti-tank missiles in a warehouse to kill real people…That’s my reality right now.”
He told Canada’s French language La Presse newspaper that he refuses to watch an “all-out invasion” before his eyes.
“What I’m doing is short-circuiting Canadian politics.” he told the newspaper, speaking in French. “Yes, of course governments don’t like it, but [in Ukraine]I really feel that there is strong support, and not just moral support.”
According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, more than 20,000 people from 52 countries have volunteered to assist Ukraine against Russian forces following President Zelenksy’s call for “anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world” to “fight side by side” with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals”.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has also issued a call for volunteers with combat experience who have “citizenship other than Ukrainian” but “are standing with Ukraine against [the] Russian invasion.”
Mr Kuleba announced on Twitter that anyone interested in joining the ranks should contact Ukraine’s diplomatic missions in their respective countries.
“Together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin, too,” he said.
“I want to help them because they want to be free, basically. It’s as simple as that,” Wali told the CBC. “I have to help because there are people here being bombarded just because they want to be European and not Russian.”