National Newswatch

In Afghanistan, he was nicknamed Wali.

And the name stuck for the former sniper with the Royal 22e Regiment, who — earlier this week, in the dead of night — crossed the border into Ukraine from Poland, answering a call from Ukraine’s president for a foreign legion to help repel the Russian invasion.

The border was a surreal experience, even for a former Canadian soldier used to the unpredictability of war in the sun-scorched grape fields of Kandahar. Wali said he and the three other former Canadian soldiers who made the journey with him were greeted with hugs, handshakes, flags and photos by Ukrainians after they crossed the border.

“They were so happy to have us,” said Wali (CBC News has agreed to identify him only by his nom de guerre to protect his family’s safety). “It’s like we were friends right away.”

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