I was finally able to reach the soldier in an encrypted messaging application. He agrees to speak to me on the condition that he does not disclose his identity or location.
It was a bit quiet at the moment but last night and this afternoon it was bustlingAsked to explain our communication problems.
This senior soldier of the Canadian Armed Forces traveled to Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian invasion. He now leads a group of ex-servicemen from Canada, the United States and Europe who are fighting alongside the Ukrainian military. Harlf was baptized in memory of the French ancestors of some of the Cubes who were part of his regiment.
He describes living on earth for two months as hell on earth.
” As soon as the Russians get into it, they bomb everything they have on us. It is amazing that I have not lost any men so far. ⁇
Harlf says that while some elements of the regiment are of Ukrainian descent, they are all there to defend the values they believe in.
This is not a clean war. We are here to stop a genocide, but we also give the Ukrainians the opportunity to get the freedom they want. The Russians are not on the right side of history.
The senior explains that all members of the battalion fight voluntarily and are integrated into the battalion of the volunteer branch of the Ukrainian army. They therefore report directly to the Ministry of Defense.
The only way not to impose a deal on my comrades, he says. We are not mercenaries. A fighter can only stay for a month if he wants to.
Harlf did not hide the fact that from the beginning of his presence in Ukraine there had been fighting between his troops. Former members of the regiment also questioned his leadership in an article this week Press. (New window) They especially accused him of neglecting to provide his men with the necessary safety equipment.
The commander admits that about sixty fighters were sent back to other units. But he insists he never reduced security.
Everyone had helmets and ballistic padshe said.
Russian baptism of fire
At the beginning of the conflict, Harlf asked his men to attend a conference of the Ukrainian army. Instead, they saw the recapture of a village that had been in Russian hands under bombardment.
Despite the surprise of the foreigners, the attack was successful. Radio-Canada has not been able to independently verify the achievements of these weapons.
” I think the Ukrainians wanted to test us. But I did not die and I think we won because I did not lose anyone. ⁇
But they are not the end of their problems. The next day, the Russians returned with double the force.
They took the prisoners and all the civilians who helped us were deported, says the commander. We see forced integration.
Harlf believes his regiment provides a specific experience that some Ukrainian volunteers from other factions do not have.
In particular, they are trained in the field at the tactical and strategic levels. But there is still a lot of work to be done, he admits. There are many disadvantages among newcomers.
The elder notes that the Soviet tradition still exists among Ukrainian troops. However, the Ukrainian military has benefited from training from NATO forces. Since 2015, Canada has trained 33,346 troops as part of Operation Unifire, according to the Department of National Security. The cost of the project is $ 890 million.
Previously, you could not go to the bathroom without the permission of the General. Westerners have done a good job of spreading the command that allows teams to take strategic initiatives on the ground. This is one of the reasons why the Russians lost their generals and they have to go to the front line if they have a problem. It is corruption and everyone is afraid to do wrong.
While the commander is grateful to the countries that send arms to support the war effort, on the ground, there is still a terrible shortage of equipment for volunteer fighters.
AK-47s and optics need Picatinny rails, he laments. It is very difficult to find. We take the priority and the rest for the Ukrainian army. The brigade is now trying to raise funds for itself by selling mugs and clothes.
But it does not allow the purchase of vehiclesAdds Hrulf.
Ready for anything
In the middle of the interview, the commander begins to apostrophe one of his soldiers.
Is there a drone? Turn off your light bulb and come in, alas!He yells, while the Orlon-10 craft flies over them.
Harlf then begins the discussion as if nothing had happened.
He now expects a major Russian offensive in the Donbass region.
We have a plan and we are patient. We have instructions to follow. We cannot do what we want.
Kubeser is optimistic that the Ukrainians will have a chance to win this war.
Whether it is blind or naive belief, everyone is very motivated. Anxiety is felt when you are bombed. The injuries are horrible. But the Ukrainians are willing to do anything to protect their land. If I were Russian, I would think twice before coming.
According to the Norman Brigade, although the conflict is paralyzed, according to Hrulp, it has been a long time coming.
For my part, as long as we are useful, I will be. But at some point, after two or three years of war, I will pass the torch.