Pictures From Ukraine

A Canadian veteran on a soul-healing journey captures some of its moments.

This will be the first story that I have posted about the war in Ukraine, not because I don’t have any opinions about it, but because frankly, I am finding my plate to be quite full enough as it is. So why, you might ask, am I doing so now?

I got a message from a friend of mine yesterday, I hadn’t heard from him in a few weeks and I had started to wonder what he was up to. He began by sending me some pictures, so I asked him what he was doing. “Training” is what he tells me, so I said, “What you’re training on your farm?”. “Nope.” he says, “Have you heard of Kramatorsk? Just east of it.”. It took me about a second to process this, and I’m sure that my jaw dropped straight to the floor upon realizing what he was telling me. My first reaction was to say “Holy shit!” a few times, pausing briefly in between my stunned utterances. I asked him how long he had been there and he told me a couple of weeks.

He decided to do what a number of other Canadian Forces veterans have done by going to Ukraine to help train their Territorial Defence Forces, their citizen-soldier militia troops. He is lending his expertise as a veteran of the Canadian Airborne Regiment to help train elements of the Rubizhne Unit, providing instruction to these troops that they would have ordinarily learned during infantry battle school, primarily their combat medics.

He also told me that he needed my help with something, and there is no way that I could so no to this guy. He is one of my brothers from another mother and I have a lot of respect for him. He has also been a good friend to me over the last 5 years or so, there for me when I have needed it. I am currently writing in detail about what we discussed and I’ll be posting something very soon. Suffice it to say it is something of significant importance, and lives are at stake.

My thoughts.

As far as my own thoughts and opinions about this war, they are not exactly as black and white as a lot of people. I view this in terms of the bigger picture. It isn’t simply a matter of a former KGB Lieutenant Colonel who is trying to bring back the good old days of the Soviet Union, or of a country perceived to be strong waging war against the weak. This is a conflict that has been decades in the making, and NATO is just as much to blame for this as Russia. Once again, as they did in Afghanistan, NATO has done a great job at completely fouling things up, and the unfortunate thing is that innocent civilians are the ones who are paying the price and, yet again, it has been up to a group of private citizens, mostly veterans from NATO countries, who are stepping up to try to clean up this mess. Having said that, the Russians haven’t exactly earned any sympathy from much of anyone, myself included, what with the laundry list of war crimes they seem to enjoy perpetrating.

My heart breaks for the Ukrainian people whose lives have been torn apart by the criminal aggression of the Russians. Canada is home to 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent, which amounts to almost 4% of its total population, and the second-largest diaspora in the world next to Russia. At the turn of the 20th century, tens of thousands of Ukrainians were immigrating to Canada, settling in the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. There they broke ground and established themselves in thriving communities like Vegreville, Alberta, which is home to one of the world’s largest pysankas, as well as numerous other cities and towns across the prairies.

Those who immigrated here back then were able to survive because of their natural bravery and resilience, the same bravery and resilience that has enabled them to fend off the Russian bear. Like many other Canadians, I stand by the side of the people of Ukraine in their time of greatest need and hope that peace will come sooner rather than later.

Life in photos.

My friend sent me a number of pictures that he has granted me permission to share with you, which I have edited in order to conceal the identities of those who appear in them. It is a unique look at what life is like for the Canadians who are far from home at their own expense to help train Ukrainian citizen-soldiers. I tip my hat to this group of guys and give them my utmost respect for what they are now doing. I, like many other Canadians, am so very proud of you for heading into a war zone in order to help the underdog stand up to the bully. Come home safe all of you.

Slava Ukraini!

3 thoughts on “Pictures From Ukraine

  1. Hello Derek:

    Thanks for the news fromUkraine. As an IT security practitioner, I would like you to be aware and mindful that there may exist some software that can reverse the photos to their original states, ie. show the faces of those in the pictures…

    Thank you.

    Happy Easter to everyone especially my Canadian veterans brothers in the front line…

    Stay safe and come home…


  2. I recieved a couple of texts from this source and am impressed with his taking the route less traveled. Most excellent news and all the best to him and others who have stepped yp and into the aid of others.

    Liked by 1 person

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