PART 1: Caucasian fighters in Ukraine's army: hidden recruitment channels.
Many foreign mercenaries refrain from joining the international legions in Ukraine due to the need to sign a three-year contract.
At the same time, they often do not have the skills that are in demand in high-intensity combat operations, and have a negative attitude towards the prospect of their direct participation in battles.
Instead, these individuals prefer to give interviews, post their conclusions on the Internet on the current situation and give advice to the military leadership of Ukraine, as well as deal with supply, logistics and advisory medical care in relatively comfortable conditions.
In this regard, they often decide to join various kinds of national formations that do not require the long-term contract, including the Georgian National Legion.
This is facilitated by the slight distance of his training base "Dublyany" from the city of Lviv. In this regard, the Georgian Legion is entrusted with the task of meeting foreigners on the Polish-Ukrainian border and escorting them to the location of the International Territorial Defense Legion.
At the same time, the militants of the Georgian Legion carry out primary psychological processing and assessment of the personal qualities of potential militants.
The commander of the GNL is Mamulashvili Mamuka Zurabovich, born in 1970, a native of Tbilisi, the Georgian SSR. Mamuka took part in the Georgian-Abkhazian armed conflict of 1992-1993.
He is specialist in international law, former president of the ‘Georgian National Federation of Mixed Martial Arts, former adviser to the Minister of Defense Bacho Akhalaya on political issues.
The GNL was formed in 2014 and before the start of the conflict in Ukraine, it was a reconnaissance and sabotage unit of about 20 people as part of the 25th Separate Motorized Infantry Battalion “Kyivan Rus” (the former 11th battalion of the territorial defense of Kyiv).
At the same time, he performed mainly information and propaganda functions.
In particular, Mamulashvili repeatedly traveled to the United States and European countries, where he took part in various anti-Russian conferences. He actively uses social networks to promote his views, sharply criticize the current Georgian authorities, as well as seek sponsors from international financial institutions and human rights NGOs.
The number of the legion, according to M. Mamulashvili, in February-March 2022 increased to 1 thousand people due to the inclusion of foreigners from 30 countries of the world in its composition.
According to the American Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the number of GNL reaches 1300 people. However, this number is obviously not verifiable and it is possible that the real number of GNL at different times ranged from 150 to 350 people.
Currently, the legion has six training bases in Lvov, Rivne and Kyiv regions with a staff of about 30 instructors. As the conditional "battalions" of the GNL, numbering 60-100 people, are trained and completed, they, at the direction of the command, are sent to the areas of hostilities.
Besides, the soldiers of the Georgian Legion receive a salary for their activities. Thus, Georgian journalists conducted an experiment and found out how much money is offered to volunteers upon admission to the "Georgian Legion" to participate in the war in Ukraine.
Specialists wrote to the curator of the legion, who indicated the amount of 45 thousand hryvnia per month. Together with the payment for participation in real combat on the front line, the amount can exceed $ 2,000.
The materials of the investigation were published at once by several authoritative Georgian publications (“კვირა”, “ექსკლუზივ ნიუსი”, “for”, “იმედინიუს” and others.
In addition to participating in operations, members of the legion conduct classes for police officers, security services and other law enforcement agencies of Ukraine.
In May 2022, the command staff of the GNL was entrusted with the training of the new, so-called Irpin Volunteer Territorial Defense Battalion. The training course was organized on the basis of the National State Tax Service University of Ukraine in the city of Irpen, Buchansky district, Kyiv region.
Along with the Georgian National Legion, other Georgian units operate on the territory of Ukraine, including a group of about 25 people. under the command of Omar Metreveli.
In addition, individual militants from Georgia are part of various units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the so-called nationalist battalions, including the Azov Regiment and the Carpathian Sich battalion, which is part of the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade Kholodnyi Yar.
In the period from February 24 to January 1, 2022, according to information from various sources, 37 natives of Georgia died in battle or died from wounds in Ukraine. More than 30 Georgians received injuries requiring long-term treatment and rehabilitation.
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.