A state legislator met some of Ukraine’s soldiers during a military training mission in Europe in 2017. Todd Prichard of Charles City is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and his unit participated in drills with soldiers from NATO countries and partner nations, like Ukraine.

“My impression of them was they were quite competent and they were professional,” Prichard told Radio Iowa. “This year they’ve demonstrated that professionalism and competency as they’ve done just an amazing job against a superior force and continue to do so.”

The training exercise in the summer of 2017 were staged in Poland and eight other countries. They focused on logistics and other defense capabilities. Some of the Ukrainian soldiers Prichard met had come directly from the Donbas (don-BAHSS) region.

“The border incursion fight was three years into it then,” Prichard said. “A lot of the Ukrainian soldiers looked tired and said that this was kind of a break for them to not have to be on the front line in the border region.”

The conduct of Russia’s army this year has been sobering, according to Prichard.

“They seem to not mind to cause collateral damage to civilian populations and it’s heartbreaking,” Prichard said. “War is not kind. It’s brutal.”

Prichard was an Army platoon leader in Kuwait. After the Gulf War, he joined the Iowa National Guard and was a company commander during the Iraq War. He’s currently in charge of logistics for the Army Reserve battalion at Fort Des Moines. Prichard said the world shouldn’t be surprised by Ukraine’s resistance.

“These are people that are motivated. They’re fighting for their freedom. They’re fighting for their country. They’re fighting for their homes,” Prichard said. “The other thing to appreciate is these countries in eastern Europe like Ukraine, like Latvia and Bulgaria — these other nations that are part of the former eastern bloc, they live in the shadow of a very large Russian aggressor.”

In the late 1800s, Russia was the largest country in the world and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about restoring Russia empire in the lead up to the invasion of Ukraine this past February.