Russian sanctions prove that Canadian military missions in Ukraine have affected: Commander

The fact that Russia has sanctioned him and some of his predecessors and dozens of other prominent Canadians, the latest commander of Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine, was influenced by the mission. It is said to be proof of.

Lieutenant Colonel Luc-Frederic Gilbert is six former commanders of a training mission known as Operation Unifier, which was approved by Russia last week as Moscow added 61 Canadians to the list of currently banned Canadians. Is one of them.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve done,” Gilbert told the Canadian press in an interview when asked about his inclusion in Russia’s list of authorized Canadians. rice field. “And this is a great measure of effectiveness.”

Among the other licensed former Operation Unifier commanders was a lieutenant. Sarah Heel and Lieutenant Colonel Melanie Lake described the addition of six senior Canadian officers as a sign of the value of the mission.

Canada first established Operation Unifier in 2015. The move was a direct response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the provision of weapons, ammunition and even troops to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The purpose of the mission, which evolved several times before being interrupted prior to the Russian invasion, was to help Ukraine transform its post-Soviet army into a modern combat force capable of defending the country.

The federal government states that more than 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers were trained by Canada before Russia launched a full-scale invasion in February and before the mission was suspended within two weeks.

Gilbert was on the ground before the Russian attack when 250 troops from Ottawa were packed and ordered to leave Ukraine for Poland. While he understands the order to leave, he nevertheless says it was “a little strange to us.”

“This is where we went after we moved to Poland.” It just happened, “Gilbert recalled. “This is a bit strange to us because it goes against our nature …. We are trained to (fight), we are supposed to leave in such a situation. Is not.”

Canada and its allies said they would not deploy troops to Ukraine prior to Russia’s invasion. We fear that such a move will escalate the conflict and lead to a full-scale war between Russia and the NATO military alliance. Instead, Western nations provide Ukraine with financial and military support and impose sanctions on Russia.

Plans to withdraw Canadian troops began in November, and when Russia first convened thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border, Gilbert noticed that the threat was a reality. He said it wasn’t until the end of the month.

However, there was still uncertainty. Gilbert recalled his last meeting with a Ukrainian military officer before leaving the country in mid-February. There, the commander of the National Guard of Ukraine dismissed the threat of a Russian attack.

“He said:” This won’t happen, so we’ll meet each other soon, “Gilbert said. “At that point I was confident that something would happen. He was still confident that this wouldn’t really happen …. Unfortunately, I was right.”

Gilbert and his army spent about a month in Poland, during which time they finished packing in preparation for their final return to Canada. They were also put on standby in case they needed to provide humanitarian or other assistance.

All trainers under Gilbert’s command then returned to Canada, but another group of 150 Canadian troops recently returned to Poland to help millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

Gilbert himself is now back at the Canadian military base Val Cartier, where he is in command of a regiment of five combat engineers. However, he is technically still the commander of Operation Unifier, and although suspended, it will run until March 2025.

The former Operation Unifier commander helped the Ukrainian army become more agile by Canadian missions using information to empower, trust, and make decisions for those further down the chain of command. I suggested that.

This allowed the Ukrainians to act in ways that the Russians did not expect, such as defending in multiple ways and deploying small teams that were instrumental in knocking out tanks and other Russian troops. ..

Gilbert agreed with the assessment, saying Operation Unifier also provided sniper training and other professional instructions, but “small unit tactics are the most powerful demonstration of Canada’s contribution.”

By Lee Berthiaume

Canadian press