Social media posts claim Ukraine has asked the Canadian government to send residents of Ukrainian descent to fight in the war against Russia. This is false; both countries told AFP there is no such recruitment campaign.
“Now, when the historical homeland needs them, they must be here,” says a quote attributed to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov in an August 3, 2023 post on Twitter, which is being re-branded as “X.”
“They are Canadian citizens, but above all Ukrainians. We will ask the Canadian government to send 30,000 men of military age to us.”
The post received more than 1,000 likes and 300 shares. It includes an image with a block of Russian text, as well as a photo of people carrying the Canadian and Ukrainian flags.
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia (archived here), the country has the second largest population of the Ukrainian diaspora in the world, after Russia. During the 2021 census, 1.3 million Canadian residents reported having Ukrainian ancestry (archived here).
Some Canadians have traveled to Ukraine to volunteer as fighters. But a high-ranking source in Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence told AFP the country does not have a recruiting program like the one described in the posts.
“Such an idea, request, proposal from Oleksiy Reznikov never existed to the government of any country,” the source.
Jeremie Berube, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, confirmed the supposed recruitment campaign does not exist.
“Canada has not received such a request from Ukraine,” he told AFP in an August 9 email.
Canada-Ukraine defense relationship
According to the Canadian Department of National Defence (archived here), Canada has committed more than CAN$8 billion (US$6 billion) in aid — including more than CAN$1.77 billion in military assistance — to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Since 2015, Canada has also participated in a mission with Ukraine known as Operation UNIFIER (archived here). More than 300 Canadian Armed Forces personnel are deployed in the United Kingdom, Latvia and Poland, according to the Department of National Defence website (archived here) — with the goal of training and facilitating military donations from allies.
The agency does not mention contributing troops to fight in Ukrainian war zones. Canada’s chief of the defense staff has previously declined to comment on reports of soldiers on the ground in Ukraine.
On June 15, 2023, then-Minister of National Defence Anita Anand announced Operation UNIFIER would be expanded and extended to 2026 (archived here). In August, Ukraine’s Reznikov thanked Canada for a new provision of armored vehicles.
More of AFP’s reporting on misinformation about the war in Ukraine is available here.