Soldiers (illustrative)
Soldiers (illustrative)iStock

Canada’s Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is calling for answers from the government after the release of a report by the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University in Washington DC that found members of the Ukrainian military with alleged ties to a far right group appeared to have been trained by the Canadian military and participated in exercises with Canadian soldiers.

The advocacy organization is “calling for an investigation by Canada’s Department of National Defence after far-right extremists within the Ukrainian military were found bragging on social media that they received training from the Canadian Armed Forces.”

The George Washington University study documented members of the Ukrainian military allegedly involved with extremist group Centuria “giving Nazi salutes, promoting white nationalism and praising members of Nazi SS units.”

It found that Centuria members were claiming that they had been given military training by members of the Canadian Armed Forces with whom they participated in training exercises.

FSCW noted that the Canadian military stated that it does not vet the backgrounds of foreign soldiers it trains, which is said was the responsibility of Ukraine. However, the American study stated that the Ukrainian military does not ensure its recruits do not have ties to extremist groups.

FSWC send a letter to Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan and the armed forces’ Acting Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre “urging them to open an investigation into the revelations made by the George Washington University study.”

“It is unacceptable for our armed forces to be emboldening neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, or any other country, through the provision of CAF training,” FSWC said. “This is an issue fundamental to the purpose of Canada’s forces and to the respect we owe our veterans – who sacrificed so much to defeat fascism in Europe. We urge the Department of National Defence to immediately launch an investigation into the evidence that has been revealed by the George Washington University study and to develop new policies and procedures to ensure that all foreign trainees receive some type of background check to eliminate the possibility of neo-Nazi or other extremist affiliation before receiving training from Canadian forces.”