Fighting in Ukraine are both volunteers, who have nothing to do with the political situation in Georgia, and outcasts, who support former President Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian military expert Vakhtang Maisaya told EADaily, when asked to comment on the decision of the Georgian National Legion to join Ukraine’s armed forces.
According to Maisaya, what is going on in Donbass is an anti-terrorist operation. “In the past the Legion fought terrorists illegally, now it will be doing this legally. The military campaign in Donbass will have no influence on Georgian-Ukrainian relations. It is Ukraine’s sovereign right to carry out such a campaign,” Maisaya said.
He said that Georgia and Ukraine are strategic partners and have an agreement to cooperate in defense. But that agreement does not have a point allowing foreigners to take part in anti-terrorist operations in the territory of Ukraine. So, the Ukrainian authorities have suggested giving Ukrainian passports to those wishing to fight for Ukraine.
“Among those people are Georgian citizens who once refused to fight for Georgia and to be Georgian citizens any longer. There are no other grounds for their involvement in the anti-terrorist campaign in Ukraine,” Maisaya.
He noted that if in future any of those people decide to go back to Georgia and to join local military operations, the local authorities will regard this as illegal action and will take appropriate measures.
“If their actions run counter to Georgia’s national interests, the Georgian government will take appropriate measures. I see no prerequisites for this for the time being. The Ukrainian authorities have taken all necessary measures. As regards the future of those people, this is a different story,” Maisaya said.
A few days ago the Georgian National Legion, a force that has fought for the Kiev regime for two years already officially joined Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation as part of the 25th Kievan Rus motorized infantry battalion. This is the first official foreign unit within the Ukrainian army.
It is not known how many Georgians exactly are fighting for Ukraine for the time being. Many of them are former Georgian military men and have been involved in international peacekeeping missions. According to former Georgian president and incumbent Governor of Odessa Oblast Mikheil Saakashvili, over the last two years the Legion has lost six of its one hundred men.
Chairman of the Georgian Parliament’s Defense and Security Committee Irakli Sesiashvili has told BBC that the Georgian special services are aware how many Georgians are involved in the conflict in Ukraine but are keeping this secret for the sake of their safety.
Sesiashvili confirmed that some Georgians are fighting for the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. Most of those people are ethnic Georgians with Russian passports.
In Nov 2015, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko ratified a law allowing foreigners and people having no citizenship to have a contract with the Ukrainian army even if they have no Ukrainian passport. In 2015, the Georgian MPs permitted their citizens to join armies of foreign countries, except for illegal armed forces in the Middle East.
Officially, Georgia is providing Ukraine only with humanitarian and political assistance. On Apr 28 2015, the defense ministries of Georgia and Ukraine signed a memorandum allowing Ukrainian soldiers to recover their health the Georgian Ministry’s rehab facility in Tserovani, with two groups of Ukrainian servicemen sent there by the end of the year.