The most recent commander of Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine says the fact Russia has sanctioned him and several of his predecessors is proof of the mission’s impact.
Lt.-Col. Luc-Frederic Gilbert is one of six former commanders of the training mission known as Operation Unifier sanctioned by Russia last week alongside dozens of other Canadians.
The federal government says Operation Unifier helped train more than 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers since 2015, many of whom are now fighting to defend their country.
Gilbert tells The Canadian Press that he is proud of the work his troops did in Ukraine before they were evacuated from the country less than two weeks before Russia launched a full-scale invasion.
And while he understands the decision to withdraw his troops from Ukraine to Poland, he says leaving was difficult as Canadian troops have been trained to fight and not run from a conflict.
All 250 trainers under Gilbert’s command have since returned to Canada, though another group of 150 Canadian Armed Forces members recently headed back to Poland to help the millions of Ukrainians who have fled Russia’s invasion.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2022.