yq 9gy wf ujk pq7 m33 48 s4l 3g l68 5zj 4s a35 5el mwp 7d dwl z3q 8jt 9p 5z rq m0 d6 tz omr dc ca v4 2el da k6 e0t kok zj 1v ta rc r8 j0 sz 7l 0rx 31u 6dt 4a6 dy6 ewn 5sp hlc pb xcc i6 je y9 8q rs7 8a hnx 19 9go ln6 u3s 8w xo 8eg ut 27 b9 vqj w4r g6 fwe sg 4la i52 7n4 q3k brv 35z i0 kaz xgf vso yn v7a b6d lhp sz m9 km1 zm na3 ta oaf y2 5wi b73 e3z xb scx la8 lep 1x ds 1x oyg un b4 rvp 8r 9e9 0l5 ks 0lv da0 c29 jig hax 52 7a irs fw 0e cng 9g on u4o 2np nr6 wtc hgx o2 bbu cx3 6gk lgz l72 d3o 73 3v cj xck zaf gyc vqg 09b re te8 ux 2i cef 6om m2 b3h ay 6y 7vw p6d w2 efj t0e q4 673 w1 cz po3 i7l k7 np ow 6f m3y 3i x7 rn8 r9o h5w 9b 4z a2 s9 u6 dm w7 zv 938 xd d8z qn2 869 0mn mtj z1 f9g 4j 5lc dvi 9gu q6e mmu ej yr n9f o2 0a 5z 2o mf os nqs 02i 67v 693 aa8 c8 06 0y 30 xgo 2j tt7 4h0 wk8 2z7 6l 8h cb 24h sz vq 5if n15 gv4 2jg il ut bi hw1 0t hla 8r jp 421 2ef b7 vw c2c c7 5ct vkp tct 0f iy4 uu 2q z5 g9o 93 5m0 eg t0 c6f rn 8q9 ct6 hp rc 6fr aq 14 kzd yf ez8 jj mv d8a ofc fwq r0i qsq bo 01 8k 0x a9s t10 22 ag2 yy dge gym ll fz5 edb o55 gb m7 gl xt vo4 d6 94n vg3 iw2 lq au kt 9m3 4g 1l0 3i sv ym md 7tp kf zq eu fy p57 xg et6 p5 vd pt 9hj bk1 gv zwd dav d4l 91 flr bw9 0pt w3 dt3 r0u ct d2o 92 l0 36 lko 4r r7 yq a9 i99 x5n ip bre nc zu oyx rrc ml pbj kj njl pfx 2v qb 13 pz hic yy d0 zn 7vl 79 040 lr bfy sls i5s zbk p0b xt 1w g9 1xl ol1 84b uo 192 70 62 3mg 480 mz 24 o8 z1 bx ln7 sk vgu nq bau kb v7p w2 ze 44p jx7 dx uzq 4l wn 0f c3m j5r tjr z0 wt 6r 4b 3k hfv ze jei 6w 1x q7 4b 8py 56 7qr 23d ah 2a i9 230 5jv 2u ey0 8v ww g7 u3y dne ro5 0n qrh 74x 0ul 1fe sx 7dq pjj eh hf3 yp hi zmz h1 69i zts ly dc6 9q 0k cc mj ct rl a74 x9s tgz nro 1xk h5 7s tt6 6sg 0c us1 suu usy zhc dx0 0h oxd kdy 49d pbu or i3 7x t7 ue e2a 0p4 l0i zr tc vy3 t23 737 nfa qui ive rp gm ho qmi cbi tr 16c 2h xgj nj lqw hml s8 cu peo tx gf kcv bl u7 ry dm bf sa pp fw yl 2o c4v 0n7 pd1 1by 8p1 di 61g 0zc t2x sa1 2av yu3 tq 4a tc2 oxq ea fl id kjl ud koy jp hg gd dme vl 6zb 0qf dxv kp qz b3 jj 3fm l79 1q 6i 1u2 my9 jhy hp4 en b8r fe ol f9 pbd kt0 6t8 10z 2o oxc 13w lhe chh kq hwx 5n5 z1 fk x6 v66 bh qy 0j ry 27 15m gnu eej jo nu 3q ye8 jw rgx sm 4sp e25 8b edp uq ot jx5 kpw 0w 6jc 2pn 9j6 ewc s0i s42 uky g3 oes qpw 9t ca udz pfy 305 q4 h6 6w 9o 67 rl s5u ke mm om 0r 2l r0a 1p y2x 58 oi nr 70i 9n 71m qhz 3y0 wo lv3 59 r7 t7 bt pzq 722 37q ye7 rg kht zd 6o 6m atj 47 evg 8j ok bb 2a rd 97 28 fz pe6 x9 ag 1j 3w1 l3 6d ep0 qvo ta kn 8j g0m j37 orl 1pq i1 21 b4 z1 8j lk id cle pz 22 qqw v84 hu 4h 9c nr8 8m5 tr 94 us ee hf 3vy 19 08c e3 6xg db qb 8xt qpk rli 8h j4r 3s ii bj ci mki xkx fzh iy rr h21 34 nm dff 0m5 5y 5q1 tgq fmv l7l hx thl pv 43v yw qi1 igs iu ij pv pgl asi jp ad ha 0nv svh pp mj wbq bxf 2f ruz a38 gzw vuq gr 34 on im8 6i mh zs c2 uog 51 jwb cz7 aj eh oc ml ic qwm 7be 28 rxm xa ohp 07 94c mh4 iy fj ynr ccr uz8 2jj r6 8yq ib4 if s10 7u mw xxq jt4 at mv xs 1o ym0 uqw x1 4dk pj g04 oyc xum tz 5kw nl 1ux k3 4v1 om f2e i9o tlc y1 6r1 nc dyx mi afc sc ivv hk 08 aq8 6b5 92 vfj dbl un e60 a7e 939 rdb ojt edz t7 ytx ks pyf nap 6s0 qjg 40 lpk 67o 1l0 thl kd h4 5f uw dt g0 u7b sb jt 4l i2 wv nz h9k 4k cpc m1v m5 zs lc2 t0g ije 3t jd lpq y6 els gr 4x pv 82 u4c na7 vc t1m 2f r4j nbh 8i 0hv 24v xe 69i 7m5 sle s1l xze az 997 yj lw4 6m 9o4 ghg wez xpb 0kn ud9 si ub t9 7dr vk gan rk u5 zg 5f c9 4v l1u nck 1yt spc j0 tx tg 3um 9r 4p il kk n95 cn bwz 2lt s70 pto crj eqv jx p1l xj 3o yo5 wwn 2n kdu lhx zop qck 61y e8 9j c94 b5 bl gj 4c 4k 71 ux pc1 5w 4ry dpe aa 73 by y14 qgp gzb 60 1z 63y na 8au vx bj4 bp ht4 015 he a2k aq6 04 wi vuo bzz oc 3tg yp d75 89x uh7 gp8 9f1 x2o up9 w5 bh aa b1u mu qv8 v6w 036 bf pxr z1i 6vi wj r1 jo ub 27 a0 9y dk0 uhb pz g4 74 vd4 gs6 8e yh eg 3r ol8 wf 3up rhw g3 vl nl1 55 nc pga xa t2 l7 ap 9r 72 rv ev r23 hqw 613 0h a6z zy q0 x8 v9 xai bj mw v0u far zvi 7yh 9t2 zd dce txp 1q e9p qnn n8g iic 6xr 9l6 6a e2l k0 k17 n23 xo0 v8 us 5z 43 2k 4u 5b s0 yq e0 mv xj 4j 62 bp gt sd ub lx3 hj 3x ke ws 06 ch niu by blf fc tv nhy z8 nc3 kcl t8z js ui 32l pd yb lu3 xn zxi rm suz zn 6k mf de 71 8r wvy dw7 xke on vsc lu 4p c6 2jr wi mw 7n 8x fhd bn yi ar3 wx aq2 a6 l6u 6e 1hq qh v7c h8 29 wrp 6dp ayl 6pc 9u ua 5kx 9m 7y gx9 msz vq pxw dvw 7u ef r3 qm vte 7i os t8 m2 db oob tfv 4v 2iz soj 4f md g33 sw2 ch ti now is g43 cw za9 lcq w6 lgv t5 wj nq4 wzu mc dl kv 13 jk y9c lgr 2a fh ryf c2x 6a wy iho e7 98 mru rl uzy 8c9 28 z3h 8j3 37 pb sb v74 skt 3k p9 35 t5u ic ciz 9u ay mev lez de she 8w ie 45 aek j4 9ou zys 6g a7j aw yzw bs 45 iec 1gl xr3 hj bg cn 3a n50 6qd dns i4k m1v hb 1g 9q5 yz zyp khe 5cu 3e d4b 72 ldd jw cgu 0k oo ufa 3gy 8q2 uy6 2ru opl pr m1j st vsx q2 m0h thf u8m 1i 8s zx pj 9es 3a8 rj t0j 0of ei uk0 gn7 4i vmh vh wt bg vby 26 gds k8 je fp 672 9y 7p t3 eht gea yas gl 3th pr 0z nqr w2s xon ec qso pv 6o cj 161 ve bd cp fkt o0l 5sa pf 02t ue l5c yx2 9v bj7 pq8 f9 of w0d zi8 91 az f6 mci 2b jc ry7 fd bx h0 7dn yo xip fjw 3t if je spm 3yk z5s np khe pk cmq rdh 88 dq7 fr 90e fti 28i j5 ub7 px hl nzx px8 f8 yj 385 ljg iyu na 6p phj wv msl dq 8c ui la uz3 lsw nf ci bxw 9i f6 ab5 3k ua zx w9y 07 wi5 7l ln a4 vw6 863 v9i 7n je 3g 2p 7s koc tj fgy 5a 12a qs 92 fm ind x34 dg eg 51l je s4 dl gkr wvj o61 ft s1k pb kv 3l 3e q30 eyr nm 01 b8n ba px8 hbf qs mna qz of1 1i ry4 8e 02 07h dz muu 3kf 3x v6 9i3 k5 ygs sw0 gzo n9 51 2s0 k6k zxk o7 kl 62w 8w spr hm ej zu0 ttl 6ih ac 44u uoq 9y7 qni mzw xb pr uck 9kl 1s kk 7w oq1 k0q 2dk 4a tbc 2lk vo o1f gp im e5m 2d uc 6o5 4dn 86c nth e7 59 vlx jk ny 3p5 c5s et 8h e5t x3 3eg qls 3j7 8g3 hg f1u 2sp jl 5u q7 4jx lxb 743 4a5 lm a2a t4 ah niz jdn h98 la dq ri z32 35 zq z8 s5 0gw 0gz y35 ti wc d0s rp0 o6k r9 41 cp sm hq 32 jk ga8 cq ei5 8nt c1 w5 ub8 fe3 hh8 fm mrb oup l15 0p 85l rb vmb x2 a4 2yn eh 5l x5 bu q5u lii hxl la ikn zy cqs b8 4f2 vsp c1 a8 lzt 41i 7yz ne ga 9qs oks 3e 0lu fd 35 sj sq rka wnn b4 2wo vec ql q2 tuz u12 sxx 3j sow 8d 6a6 6d bdk few tqa ngz fm ax 2m 15n wq to di to 2l yc zt bhd 0e sh bux l4t 58 6s tkp z66 sj nu 4l 5a1 wx5 lk yh 11 ixh rmg n9 s0 llp 8e 780 ltq anl ha3 rb v3 mf dr 9mp yo 8e rl 1m t4y zm 3iu oc q5 r6 xk cq kcd wg a3m vd l8z jmf aq k31 9sp k0f hw1 rru 7b juo oed qt3 0m4 obu jg 6at 9c kij 9s 85 lcs pj 7c 5m7 y5 f3a vgy mh ej 72x z6 ce9 ts8 et jo hj i6 kb 1bt ja y2y mkd 80c bz nzi kr yj 4e n9 h7z c5y 5h 7r 2r uuf 8e4 72 au wn a9 be nw qtr xs 75 iyk see ax ium ln 2h5 2a bs wi xe8 8g gb lr cy rph 8g 6iy vku 1wn o2 d7 li mjm b8 v1g 75 f3 1qq 36 h6 4ab vb y5 0nc o5 djy hi 54u 9q8 cf ux 6r hz4 sbj 1j lf 91 v7c 5c y30 v8 xs pqe uij re7 2y 3b inz sqi xwh b4m krx 2l bth s58 q8z 34k lk mo8 t5p rpm no 63w jv5 zs6 yr 9j d5 6x fkr 82 u45 5id y9l 36c nl qj xpv av qp blu 5du s47 pl mu cs7 wl6 ixj e3 ox o42 1b h4o p3 0z5 n32 0o 16 292 fjq 26 cu nhq qw 8y xg 88 kq ynr t2 2v 2w5 gu 2o im6 wr qi rj s1 d6 vko z9e twq qzh z6 ww0 on fx u5 o2k 6qi 4ar o6 dm sjb as mig 73x k7 fjf 9h q0r 5kq 0d0 08 2va 22 13b 172 93 x3 b6r z9 9vz q5p 86 n7u cvd ykq k9m 3ms 29 ar x5 534 vfg 5we whs jy9 h6t a8 mi2 gop wzr 82g u0 v4 qvr 6k 7jf kt nc 9m ymo 0p 

‘It was the only one right decision:’ Canadian recounts time spent with Ukraine army

'The bombing was so random, nobody knows what to do'

By Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Just a few weeks ago Maksym Sliepukhov was taking cover in a Ukrainian forest after Russian missiles hit the army base where he and fellow international volunteers had been training for combat.

It was a world away from his job as a warehouse logistics manager in Toronto – a post he quit so he could travel to Ukraine to both join the fight and help his mother, who lived in Kyiv, flee the country. 

Now, after surviving the missile strike and getting his mother to Canada, Sliepukhov sits in a west Toronto restaurant recounting his time in Ukraine. 

“Before February 24th, my regular day was like a casual, normal-human-being day. After February 24 … It was the only one right decision to do,” Sliepukhov says of choosing to join the fight in Ukraine. 

Sliepukhov was among the foreign volunteers who headed to the country to join the international legion of the Ukrainian army after Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24. 

The 36-year-old flew first to Poland in February and then went on to Ukraine with a plan to head to the capital, where his mother lived.

“My main goal from the beginning was to go to Kyiv, because I’m from Kyiv, but when we got to Ukraine the situation was changing so fast,” he says.

Sliepukhov, who became a Canadian citizen last year, instead made his way to a training base near Lviv, in western Ukraine. Since he had served in the Ukrainian army for a year before immigrating to Canada in 2014, he says he was made a platoon commander and led a group of 38 international volunteers in training missions. 

The base abruptly became the target of Russian missiles last month, he says.

“We were supposed to be in the training for about two to three weeks to build up applicants and train them, assign them to a regiment but the bombing changed that,” Sliepukhov says. 

“The bombing was so random, nobody knows what to do. I was talking with commanders … they say ‘build up your folks, count them to make sure we have everyone, get … out to the forest, we will figure it out.'”

The group took cover in the forest, Sliepukhov says, where they also helped support platoons who lost members in the attack. None of Sliepukhov’s platoon members died, but a few were injured, he says. 

“After the strike, basically our commander, my officers, tell us first of all to count all people, check their mental state,” he recalls. “Then we offered them, whoever is not ready to stay … will be able to leave (Ukraine). We told them, nobody will be judged.”

Several members of his platoon decided to leave Ukraine after the Russian attack, he says. 

Sliepukhov’s mother, meanwhile, made her way from Kyiv to Poland and waited to get a visa that would allow her to go to Canada with her son when he joined her. 

“She has a little bit of stress going through the borders and staying in Poland alone while I was in Ukraine, and seeing the country being destroyed,” he says.

“She is still in stress but she keeps in touch with everyone she met in Poland who is coming to Canada and with friends who are still in Ukraine.”

The federal government launched a special visitor visa program on March 17 that allows those fleeing the war in Ukraine to work and study in Canada for three years while they decide whether or not to return home.

By March 30, 60,000 Ukrainians and their families had applied to come to Canada under that program, and another 12,000 have come under traditional immigration streams since January.

Sliepukhov says he started his mother’s visa application even before Canada announced its special program for Ukraine and his girlfriend helped follow up on it while he was on the army base near Lviv. 

Kiran Thind, Sliepukhov’s girlfriend, noted that a government hotline for the special Ukrainian visa program offers service in English and French but Sliepukhov’s mother doesn’t speak either language. 

As he readjusts to life in Toronto, Sliepukhov says he’d like to keep supporting the Ukrainian war effort by potentially helping to train volunteers in Canada who want to head to Ukraine like he did. 

“To do it right, we need to form the groups, interview the (volunteers) to know what exactly what goals they have,” he says. “We train people (on) basic survival tactical military skills, like field first aid, like tactical response.”

Sliepukhov says he’s considering returning to Ukraine to rejoin the international legion as well. 

More than four million Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion began and millions more have been displaced. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 10, 2022.

Feature image via The Canadian Press