The Canadian sniper ‘Wali’ alive in Ukraine – was ‘last to know’ about his presumed death

Reports of the death of a famous Canadian sniper in the hands of Russian forces in Ukraine have emerged prematurely.

The man known as “Wali” and by some online news sites dubbed the “deadliest sniper in the world” spoke to Star in a video interview on Tuesday, where he said he had been “the last to learn” about his own death.

The 40-year-old Quebec soldier, who asked that his real name not be used, traveled in early March to join the Ukrainian forces on the front lines. He said the Russians fired at him for three days, but that he had returned from his first mission near Kiev unharmed, despite at least one close call with what he believes was a tank.

“I was in this amazing apartment – it would look the same in downtown Toronto, an espresso machine and delicious TV,” he said. “I was standing in the kitchen and I saw the huge fireball. And glass went everywhere. “

For now, he said, he’s safe – apart from the cough that plagues several frontline fighters, he said, though it’s not clear if it’s COVID-19 or something else – and away from the front lines. He said he heard about online rumors of his own death when he turned on his phone to find social media speculations about him and messages from friends worried about his fate.

“There are two things I know for sure: that there is a Russian invasion of Ukraine and that people think I am dead.”

The warrior with 40,000 people following Facebook has fought and documented his time in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and now Ukraine on his online blog.

But after his post went dark last week, rumors of his presumed death began circulating widely on Russian social media like VKontakte.

“Canadian sniper, whom propaganda called the ‘deadliest sniper in the world’ … killed by Russian special forces in Mariupol 20 minutes after landing,” read a statement from the administrator of a Russian nationalist group.

The post was “liked” more than 12,000 times and would continue to be shown on countless other channels.

Wali said he gets trolled when he posts online, with shady online accounts claiming his interviews or his pictures are fake.

“I think the enemy’s propaganda is a bit amateurish. You know it’s not smart,” he said. “They will lose credibility if they keep making such blatant lies.”

In general, he said that Russian forces have not beaten him as particularly sophisticated, and in his opinion, they resort to constant shelling rather than trying to track down or engage with enemy forces.

At one point, he said, he and a friend were hiding in a house, and the Russians seemed to know they were nearby, and began raining down artillery. Helicopters approached, but they seemed hesitant because of the air defense missiles donated by the Americans, he said.

The bombing continued, but the helicopters were careful and never got too close. At one point, he and his friend even found a bottle of rum, he said, and got a drink while the bombing continued.

“We should not underestimate them, but they are not as good as the NATO army. I would be much more afraid of what is equivalent to Canadian soldiers with all the planes, tanks and infantry than the corresponding number of Russian soldiers,” he said.

The shelling, however, is constant: “It’s like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of shells non-stop while you sleep, while you eat, all the time.”

In addition to being alive, Wali disputes the idea that he is the world’s greatest sniper, pointing out that even though he is good, there are some “amazing” snipers in Ukraine.

Speaking, he sat up against a light blue wall – chosen to betray few details about his location, he said, though a visible socket with two round legs indicated he was at least outside North America.

“You know, a month ago I was coding and programming. I have no new sniper training,” he said. He stays in shape while back in Canada, but it’s hard to be the best when not train every single week, he said.

A handout photo, the sniper, related to his time spent fighting Kurdish forces in northern Iraq against Islamic State.

In addition, sniper is a team event, he said. A single soldier is only as good as the information they get from the rest of the group, he said. He has not yet killed anyone in Ukraine, he said.

“I am a good soldier among other good soldiers.”

Wali said he understands why the Canadian government has been lukewarm to foreign fighters going to Ukraine, as approving it would essentially be a declaration of war. Still, he said, “I do not think I want any problems at home because there is so much support.”

Although a former Canadian soldier, Wali has since traded in conflicts around the world, including Syria. But this decision came with a special emphasis – his son marked his first birthday while Wali was on his way to Ukraine.

Wali said he hopes that when his son is old enough, he will understand his father’s motives.

“I have many types of duties, I would say, to my family, to my community and to humanity. And that is humanity’s part of my duty. It does not matter to me whether it was Afghanistan, or Kurdistan or Ukraine. , if people need help, because I can give this help, then I will help them. ”

If anything, it was a clearer decision to join the conflict in Ukraine because, he claims, it was so clearly an act of aggression. Wars in one country can be more scary, but “when you have a country invading another country, it’s hard not to understand that you have to do something,” he said.

He points out that although Ukraine is not perfect and Russia is not entirely bad, the invasion is “obviously” an aggression against the free world.

“At some point, if we believe in freedom and peace, we need to do something. We all have a good reason not to go there. But at some point we have to do it, someone has to do it, ”he said.

“I hope – I think – that my son will understand that.”


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