CORRECTION: Canadian Forces special operations members are training Ukrainians on the ground in Ukraine. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated they would be assisting with the training plan announced on Thursday that will see regular force members working in the U.K. Global News regrets this error.
Elite Canadian operators from the Canadian Special Operations Command are training Ukrainians on the ground in Ukraine, multiple sources tell Global News.
Sources told Global News the members from the Canadian Special Operations Command are also facilitating weapons and equipment delivery.
Global News is not identifying which units are involved due to operational security concerns.
The news comes after Defence Minister Anita Anand had announced plans to have regular Canadian Forces members deploy to the U.K. as part of a plan to specifically train Ukrainian recruits, describing it as a fulfilment of the pledge the Canadian government made when it paused the Operation Unifier training mission in Ukraine shortly ahead of the Russian invasion earlier this year.
The Canadian Special Operations Command did not deny the operations but declined to comment when contacted by Global News. In an interview, Anand also did not deny the operations.
“In terms of special forces and their location and information along those lines, it would be imprudent for me to provide that information,” she said in a Thursday interview with Global News.
“These are very sensitive matters and I take my role as Canada’s minister of national defence very seriously, including the protection and the safety and security of our troops across the board. And so I will leave it at that.”
The New York Times had previously reported the presence of some Canadian special operations members in Ukraine, but their role and presence had not been confirmed until now by any Canadian media.
The training rotation Anand announced on Thursday will see up to 225 Canadian Forces members deployed to the U.K. over the next four months, with the first group of trainers departing next week.
They will train Ukrainian recruits on front-line combat and the rules of combat under international law, with Anand calling the training program “extensive.”
The Canadian Press also reported on Thursday that training support will focus on teaching Ukrainians how to use the four M777 howitzers that Canada donated earlier this year, as well as cyber assistance through Canada’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment.
Anand said on Thursday the world is now entering “a new and very dangerous phase of this conflict” as Russian President Vladimir Putin attempts to cause “long-term damage” on Ukraine.