On May 8, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times parroted a RT reportthe Russian state media outlet, about a Canadian sniper who volunteered to fight in defense of Ukraine in the war.
In the accounts, the sniper resigned and reportedly returned to Montreal with some harsh words about Ukraine’s military.
“The [RT] The report said that, after returning home, he told local media that he had experienced “extreme disappointment” in Ukraine. He also publicly accused the Ukrainian army of chaos, looting and incompetence,” said the GlobalTimes wrote. He accused the Ukrainian army of inadequate weaponry, poor training, heavy losses, profiteering and desertion.
While the story drew attention in China, it distorts an account published in La Presse, a Montreal French-language newspaper, in which the sniper, who goes by the nom de guerre “Wali,” is quoted about his experience.
The press reported in Wali’s two months with other volunteers in the Ukraine, including an initial stint with the “Norman Brigade,” a private volunteer unit founded by a Canadian Army veteran.
In La Presse’s account, titled “War Is a Terrible Disappointment,” Wali described the horrors and frustrations of war, including having to search for food, weapons and ammunition, and an incident in which two inexperienced Ukrainian recruits were flown by a Russian. tank.
The newspaper said members of the Norman Brigade complained about weapons shortages and other issues, prompting some members, including Wali, to split from the unit.
But RT and the Global Times carefully selected La Presse’s account, saying it described “looting, speculation and desertion.” The characterizations take Wali’s more nuanced comments and blow them up into an attack on the professionalism of the Ukrainian military.
That leaves a misleading impression, as the consensus on the progress of the war is that Ukraine has stalled Russian forces and caused them heavy damage, despite being outgunned.
This was not the first distortion about Wali. In March, social media posts calling Wali “the world’s best sniper” falsely claimed he had been killed by Russian special forces.
“I was the last person to hear the news that he was dead,” Wali said later from kyiv, according to a fact checking by USA Today.
wali said he had served in Afghanistan with the prestigious Royal Canadian Infantry Regiment 22, known for its elite snipers, and volunteered to fight the Islamic State in Iraq in 2015.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on international volunteers to help defend his country after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the country on February 24.
Wali answered the call, saying he arrived in Ukraine in early March, eager to make a difference.
“This defense was only possible thanks to the courage of the Ukrainian fighters,” Wali wrote in his Facebook page. “I intend to contribute, at least a little, to the victory of this people who so much want to be free.”
Wali initially did not join the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine, the unit Zelenskyy set up for foreigners. Instead, he wanted to “get to the front lines as quickly as possible” and avoid the lengthy application process, the Canadian broadcaster said. CBC reported.
So Wali joined the Norman Brigade, which was founded and commanded by a veteran of the Canadian armed forces by the nom de guerre “Hrulf”.
An account published in May by Canada’s The National Post describes dissent within the brigade and complaints that it was poorly equipped and unnecessarily risky for the Canadians in its ranks. But he also quoted Wali as defending Hrulf as a “good fighter and warrior.”
“We are all on the same side against the Russians, and that is the most important thing,” Wali said.
La Presse’s account also said that all was not well among the volunteers of the Norman Brigade. “Dissension quickly set in among the troops and a large number of fighters deserted the Norman Brigade,” the newspaper report says.
La Presse quoted three unnamed members of the Norman Brigade as saying that Hrulf promised weapons and protective equipment that never materialized. Hrulf confirmed to La Presse that 60 volunteers had left and that others tried to form their own unit with $500,000 worth of US weapons.
While these accounts suggest disorder and rivalries, they do not report that Wali criticized the Ukrainian military for “looting”, “profit” or “desertion”, as reported by RT and Global Times.
‘I made a mistake’
La Presse’s story begins with Wali’s account of a tank shell that blew up two fellow soldiers who had ignored his warnings not to go off for a cigarette.
“I’m lucky to still be alive, he was very close,” Wali told the newspaper, adding that he was nearly killed “several times” while in Ukraine. That, he said, was his last mission. He had missed his son’s first birthday while he was abroad.
In the account, Wali said he saw Ukrainian conscripts who had no combat experience and witnessed mounting casualties. He said he wished those “extremely brave” Ukrainian soldiers had received more tactical training.
Quoting Wali, La Presse wrote:
“It’s a war of machines,” where “extremely brave” Ukrainian soldiers suffer heavy losses from shelling, but “miss many opportunities” to weaken the enemy because they lack military know-how, he summarizes.
“If the Ukrainians had had the procedures that we had in Afghanistan to communicate with the artillery, we could have caused carnage,” he believes.
However, after the La Presse article was published, Wali he said on his personal website that he was too focused on the losses he witnessed:
“I made a mistake… In interviews with reporters, I tend to talk too much about the terrible times when we suffered losses to the enemy. I don’t talk enough about the fact that we are inflicting casualties on the enemy,” he wrote. “As a result, some articles give a bitter impression of near defeat.”
“I don’t speak enough of the fact that the enemy has been defeated multiple times. First in kyiv – the enemy was not only stopped, but repelled. This same enemy finally decided to withdraw after suffering heavy casualties. Next, in Donbass, eastern Ukraine: again the enemy was contained and suffered casualties. In several places, the Ukrainian forces are even regaining ground, a lot of ground.”
Polygraph.info reached out to Wali for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication. However, many others share his views on the progress made by the Ukrainian armed forces.
One is Phillips Payson O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, who wrote in The Atlantic magazine that Ukraine’s military has followed a strategy that “allowed a smaller state, so far, to outlive a larger and much more powerful one.”
“The Ukrainian way of war is a coherent, intelligent and well-conceived strategy to fight the Russians,” O’Brien wrote.
“It allowed the Ukrainians to maintain mobility, it helped force the Russians into static positions for long periods by hampering their logistics, it exposed the Russians to heavy attrition losses, and, in the Battle of kyiv, it led to a victory that has reframed completely the political end of the Russian invasion.”
On his website on May 12, Wali wrote:
“I often call war a ‘terrible disappointment.’ It’s not that I myself am ‘disappointed’ with the war or my recent experience in Ukraine.”
Update: Following publication, Wali contacted Polygraph.info with a statement that included the following:
“The Ukrainian armed forces are not perfect. But they are an incredible force… Many of the Ukrainian soldiers are inexperienced. I am not frustrated by that. That is totally normal in any war, especially at the beginning. In fact, “It is good that we (Ukrainian forces) have so many new soldiers at the front, as we are now outnumbering the enemy. These inexperienced soldiers will only get better and better. They already are.”
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