Ukraine news: Canadians describe life on the front lines
Kyiv, Ukraine –
Fighting for freedom far from home. CTV National News spotted the two Canadians preparing for his second deployment to the Ukrainian frontline.
Connecting with fighters in an active war zone requires trust on both sides. Many soldiers from the United States are concerned that their identities and locations will be compromised.
Fed up with Russia’s ability to track their movements and become a target, he agreed to withhold his real name and location in Ukraine where he met two former members of the Canadian military from Montreal.
For the interview, we travel down a muddy and bumpy country back road. Arriving in the woodlands, they reveal their stories and battlefield call signs – Speedy and Tanto.
Both are young men in their 20s. Tanto, the taller of the two, says he decided to come to Ukraine after seeing news that children were crossing the Polish border with only passports and teddy bears.
“I still have the image in my head,” he admits.
As for Speedy, he said he felt it was his duty, “I wanted to help the fight and help the population.”
His first combat tour in Ukraine lasted six months. For Tanto he was four months old. Both recently returned to Ukraine and reflected on the hardships they experienced in their home countries.
“It’s really hard to adjust to normal life after what you see when I go back to Canada. [after] What you did,” says Speedy.
Tanto found it difficult to keep a regular job, saying he felt “nobody really knows what’s going on in Ukraine.”
Since returning to Ukraine, the two Canadians have faced another difficult reality.
“Our friends are all injured,” Speedy says.
A lot of tanto stocks are also dead. Confronting this tragic reality, he says: They have serious injuries to their heads and legs. “
Both are not covered by insurance if you get injured on the front line or worse. Accepting the risks involved, Speedy is at peace with what may or may not happen.
“I know I’m going to die here, and I know I’m going to get hurt here,” he says.
Tanto, who reveals himself as his uncle, says, “I don’t want to die. I’ve come to help, but I’m not going to die. If it happens, it will happen.”
Neither had experienced active combat with Canadian forces, but that changed upon their arrival in Ukraine.
Speedy laments the style of warfare that is unfolding.
“It’s like World War II,” he says. “There are trenches, there are artillery. I feel like the Russians have infinite ammunition. I don’t know how to explain it. They shell you and shell you. They never stop.”
While in several different allied battle groups, the pair share the discovery of a Russian spy within their ranks.
“They had a lot of Russian spies who were the first to join. They got caught,” says Speedy. “At some point you find out they aren’t legal. They were caught and taken away. I never saw them again.”
At the beginning of the war, it was easy to call out and deploy, according to two young Canadians, but now it requires far more paperwork. Each is now waiting for the paperwork to be cleared so that payments from the Ukrainian military can begin.
They won’t say how much they will earn, but Tanto said without payment, “I won’t stay. I have to pay.”
Together, they estimate they spent about $45,000 on gear purchases and living expenses on their first trip as a Canadian foreign fighter. Both say they will be here for a long time this time, as long as they can make a living while helping on the front lines.
Speedy and Tanto, and third French Canadian launched black maple company, a site where people can buy goods. A portion of the proceeds will be used to help fellow fighters injured in combat.
“Anything that can be given to boost the morale of wounded soldiers,” says Speedy.
Tanto worries that Canadians and the international community will soon turn away from Ukraine.
“[The war] It’s still happening everywhere in Ukraine, ”he says. “Children are dying, remember this war.”
Ottawa says the exact number of Canadians who traveled to Ukraine to take part in the fighting is unknown.At least three Canadians are believed to have died While fighting in Ukraine for the past year.