A former Canadian Armed Forces sniper now fighting Russian troops in Ukraine said he was the last to know of his death.
Former CAF Member – Who Goes war name Valli told Today Nation News that he returned to a safe location in Ukraine on Monday after a week of fighting Russian troops on the front lines in the Kyiv region. When he turned on his phone, he found hundreds of urgent messages from people who believed he had been killed in action.
His wife, father, friends and strangers sent frantic messages trying to confirm he was alive. His former commander in Kurdistan, who fought with Wali against ISIS, sent a note saying the community had sacrificed a sheep in his memory.
“As you can see, I’m still alive,” Varley said in a video call on Tuesday. “No scratches at all.”
“I was pretty much the last person to know of my death.”
Misinformation about Valli’s record has been circulating online for weeks – including claims that he is the world’s deadliest sniper and holds the record for the longest kill. Russian social media site VKontakt posted that Valli was killed by Russian special forces 20 minutes after arriving in Mariupol, and he was currently surrounded by Russian troops.
‘This is so amateur’
“I’ve never met Mariupol in my life,” said Valli (Today Nation News has agreed to identify him only by a pseudonym to protect the safety of his family).
“I don’t understand why they do it because it’s so amateurish.”
He called the lies “obvious” and said rumours of soldiers’ deaths could easily be refuted within days. The Tennessee National Guard last week debunked a false claim by Russia’s Pravda newspaper that three U.S. veterans were killed in Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Valli joined the Ukrainian defense along with another Canadian veteran nicknamed “Shadow,” who said he was not the world’s deadliest sniper and had no record. Just a few weeks ago, he was working as a computer programmer in Canada and was not actively training, he said.
WATCH: Former Canadian Army sniper gives life certificate from Ukraine
“I’m a good sniper,” Wally said. “Nothing, nothing…I haven’t killed any Russians. I’m helping to do that because the snipers are doing a lot of observation and reporting.”
Over the past week, Valli said, he has seen Russian troops shelling indiscriminately everything in their path.
“They used a lot of artillery, rifles and shelling,” he said. “They just shoot everywhere.
“I think I’ve probably had hundreds of shells in the last few days.”
At one point, he said, he felt the pressure of the explosion and turned to watch what he initially thought was a “beautiful sunset.”
“That’s the city burning,” he said. “In some places, everything was destroyed.”
During the fight, Varley said, he hadn’t slept or eaten for days. He said his journey from the Kyiv defense zone back to other safe locations in Ukraine had exposed him to scenarios of “doomsday” devastation caused by relentless Russian shelling.
“These bullets kept falling overhead and exploding,” he said.
Valley told Today Nation News that he was still trying to respond to “a flurry of new information” from those who heard he had died. He said some friends have been asking him questions about his personal history to test his identity. Others have asked him to provide photos or videos to prove he is alive, he said.
“It’s not that easy to find me”
Wali runs a blog and has been interviewed by media around the world. He said the activity could put him on the radar of Russian intelligence.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “It’s true, it can be very dangerous.
“I’m probably more interesting than the average soldier, but it’s not that easy to find me. It’s not that easy to find someone to hide.”
Wally said he left his phone at a secure base before heading to the front in Kyiv because he didn’t want to risk reporting his whereabouts to Russian intelligence.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for volunteers around the world to join his country’s defenses — but foreign fighters without three-year contracts with Ukraine’s military are not protected by international law when they are arrested.
Russia has said it will treat foreign fighters as mercenaries.