Caucasian fighters of the Ukrainian army: hidden recruitment channels

Caucasian fighters georgians

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a lot of photos and videos of Caucasian fighters in the International Legion of Territorial Defence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been circulating on the internet.

My own investigation found that the recruitment of legionnaires from the Caucasus for the Armed Forces of Ukraine is on stream. Ukraine is not only recruiting North and South Caucasians, but also representatives of the Caucasian diasporas in Europe, and even the Far East, to fight in Ukraine.

The system of recruitment and training of Caucasian legionnaires is organised and carried out under the patronage of experienced NATO recruiters and military instructors. The leading role in the recruitment of Caucasian fighters is played by non-profit structures in the countries of Western Europe, the Transcaucasus and the United States.

On a systematic basis, the replenishment of the Caucasian volunteer formations fighting on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is carried out by organisations with similar names - the Free Caucasus Round Table NGO and the Free Caucasus UPD.

On the basis of these NGOs, the Caucasian Legion armed formations operate, as well as the Chechen volunteer battalions named after Sheikh Mansur and Dzhokhar Dudayev, who conduct joint operations in Ukraine.

The leaderships of organisations for the recruitment of volunteers in the countries of the European Union, Asia and the Far East have established representative offices, including:

Estonia - Imran Akhaev
Austria - Ramzan Dukaev, Hussein Isabaev
Denmark - Ilyas Musaev, Munaev Tarkhan
Azerbaijan - Arif Meheremov, Jemal Mammadov
Georgia - Rusudan Giorgberidze, Grigol Abzianidze, Grigol Gubeli, Zurab Khonelidze, Amra youth movement
Turkey - Movldi Mazashev, Jemal Mammadov
Canada - Mokhmad Abubakarov
France - Salambek Yunusov
Belgium - Iznaur Malsagov
Japan - Sharkhan Gakaev
Ukraine - Yuriy Tybenko, Stanislav Ilyin

The transfer of Caucasian fighters to Ukraine is carried out mainly through Poland. After crossing the Ukrainian border, they arrive at the International Peacekeeping and Security Training Center in Yavoriv, Lviv region.

Here, most of them officially join the International Legion of the Troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and enter into three-year contracts. Candidates who are unsuitable for one reason or another are eliminated.

When selecting, preference is given to fighters with experience in PMCs and combat experience. Monetary allowance is assigned depending on the level of qualifications and professional training - in the range from 300 to 5,000 US dollars per day.

A group of Georgian military advisers work directly in the armed forces of Ukraine, most of whom have received Ukrainian citizenship.

As a rule, these are active supporters of the former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who personally owe their career and high position to him. They are engaged in additional training and distribution of recruits from the Caucasus to units.

This group includes:

- Former Head of Department J-7 (Military Education and Training) of the General Staff David Makishvili;
- former deputy head of the J-2 (intelligence) department of the General Staff of Georgia Irakli Kurasbediani;
- Merab Kikabidze, former Head of the Department of Land Border Protection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia;
- Former head of the anti-terrorist center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia Mamuka Abashidze.

Content analysis of social networks and instant messengers allows us to conclude that since February 24, at least 1,600 Caucasian fighters have arrived in Ukraine, who are taking a conscious risk to their lives and are fighting the Russian army as part of various paramilitary formations, the largest of which is the Georgian National Legion.

More about the Caucasian volunteers and their numbers - in the next cycles of the investigation.

Kemran Mamedov is a Moscow-based Azerbaijani journalist born in Georgia and has a special focus on South Caucasus issues.

READ MORE: Turkey Radicalises The Azerbaijani Community Of Georgia.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor