wali sniper

Famous Canadian sniper Wali says condos look the same in Ukraine and Toronto

Rumors of Wali's death have been greatly exaggerated... as in completely false. 

The former Canadian Armed Forces veteran and current volunteer sniper fighting Russian forces in Ukraine is alive, well, and even feeling a little bit at home in downtown Kyiv, which boasts an inordinate amount of glass condo buildings similar to Toronto's.

Wali, who uses a pseudonym to protect his family's privacy, is a 40-year-old soldier and internet sensation from Quebec. He was deployed twice as a sniper to Afghanistan with the Canadian forces back in 2009 and 2011, and went back to Iraq voluntarily to fight with Kurdish forces against ISIS in 2015.

Now a computer programmer, Wali flew to Ukraine in early March with another Canadian vet to assist in the war-torn country's defence against Russia. He's been providing detailed updates on Facebook the entire time.

"I am with a comrade right now and we are going to enter Ukraine," he wrote on March 1. "To give you an idea of the atmosphere... today we went to fill jerricans with gas to make Molotov cocktails, because that's what civilians want to attack Russians. On my way I passed a brand new IKEA."

His colourful commentary and brave actions have won him international acclaim, but so too have some false rumours that he laid to rest this week during interviews with several Canadian media outlets.

Contrary to reports from international media, Wali says he is not, in fact, "the world's deadliest sniper," clarifying to the CBC that he doesn't hold any formal distance or kill count records.

He also wasn't killed by Russian special forces 20 minutes after landing in Mariupol last week, contrary to what a viral VKontakte (Russian social media network) post might have said. He was simply in an internet dead zone.

"I am alive. For proof, here I am in the position of a super tactical sniper special forces commando warrior in a ball pool," he wrote in an update to his nearly 50,000 Facebook followers on Tuesday.

"The rumors that I died in the fight were completely ridiculous. The truth is we have taken the enemy's ground in addition to causing him losses. Unfortunately, we also lost comrades, dead and injured. The Russians are afraid of a close fight. They prefer to bomb, over and over again, destroying houses, such as frustrated thugs."

And lest you think his account was hacked or something, both CBC and The Star have footage of video interviews with the guy, conducted after he regained internet access this week and turned on his phone to find it flooded with messages of concern from family, friends, fans and strangers.

While he has said that the shelling from Russia is "constant" and that he's gone days without eating or sleeping amid the fray, he seems confident with the progress made by Ukraine's Armed Forces against Russia.

"This war is like playing chess without knowing what the other pawns are. You know a bit but not enough. We got engaged with the Russians in very close distance, like 50 metres, and at that point they knew we were there," he told Global News this week.

"I was in a house where they shot the room right beside me with shells from a tank, I was about three metres away. We were lucky. Now I know how it feels to be engaged by a tank."

Currently resting up between missions, he also revealed to both Global News and The Star that downtown Kyiv isn't all that different from Toronto, especially compared to war zones he's seen and visited in the past.

"It's not like everything collapsed, there's still internet. Most combat zones have no electricity and no water and it's chaos. If you go in the centre [in Kyiv], it's alright," he told Global.

"In one of the patrols I was in an amazing condo — you could have the same one in Toronto. There was an espresso machine... It's like fighting in downtown Toronto."

Wali's accounts of the sacrifices being made and the hardships endured by people all over Ukraine right now are disturbing and heartbreaking, but people all over the world are hailing his personal actions as admirable.

It'll be interesting to see what comes out of this tour for Wali. He has, after all, written two books (en francais) based on his previous missions. He's also been featured alongside fellow soldiers in a documentary.

Is a feature film based on his life next? If so, I contend that it should be named Canadian Sniper.

Lead photo by

La Torche et l'Épée

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