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A former Canadian soldier known as one of the world’s deadliest snipers arrived to Ukraine to help the nation defend itself from Russia.
“I want to help them. It’s as simple as that,” the Canadian man, only identified as Wali to protect his family’s safety, told CBC. “I have to help because there are people here being bombarded just because they want to be European and not Russian.”
Wali is a former sniper with the Royal Canadian 22nd Regiment who previously fought in the Afghanistan War. He has a kill distance of over two miles, according to the Mirror, and is known as one of the world’s most deadly snipers.
He crossed into Ukraine on March 1 along with three other former Canadian soldiers after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on foreigners to join the war against Russia’s invasion.
“They were so happy to have us,” Wali told the CBC of the people who greeted the former soldiers with hugs as they entered Ukraine. “It’s like we were friends right away.”
Wali, 40, has a young family and works as a civilian computer programmer. He said the “hardest part” of making the decision to join the war was missing his son’s first birthday.
“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.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said earlier this week that more than 20,000 people across dozens of countries have traveled to Ukraine to fight.
Russia first invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, and the two nations have been battling since. The UN estimates that more than 2 million Ukrainians have fled the nation to neighboring countries.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday that 474 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion, while 861 are confirmed injured. The office estimated the figures are actually higher.