Former military advisor to Ukraine: ‘They are proud of their nation and will defend’

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Russia continued its military campaign against Ukraine for a sixth day on Tuesday.

“It’s been really surprising to see this actually happen,” retired U.S. Army Col. Liam Collins, who is from Wisconsin, said.

From 2016-2018, during parts of the Obama and Trump administrations, Collins served as executive officer to the senior defense advisor to Ukraine.

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“We’d take our advice back to the Pentagon,” Collins said. “This is what the Ukrainians need, this is what they want —this is what we think they need.”

Collins said their two-member Department of Defense team would often meet in Ukraine every four to six weeks, including visits with the president of Ukraine and high-ranking military leaders.

Collins said, during his time in Ukraine, the leaders were concerned about a Russian invasion — “it’s what they worried about every single day.”

Ukraine’s military has around 125,000 ground troops, far less than the size of the Russian military, according to Collins.

“My fear is they launch rockets and missiles into Kyiv and major cities, the loss to human life, the destruction … and take them time to recover from … that’s my biggest fear,” Collins said.

There are images of Ukrainian civilians learning to use guns, assembling Molotov cocktails and fighting in the streets while playing a role in the early days of the resistance.

“They have a history of this, so it’s not a surprise to see them doing that now,” Collins said. “A proud nation of fighters … they are not fleeing against a superior opponent.”

Collins is also the former director of the Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point and says Russian President Vladimir Putin has been known to carefully weigh risks before any action.

“I think he seriously miscalculated, this time, what the diplomatic response would be and what the military response and capabilities of Ukrainians would be … that’s what he missed on this time,” Collins said.