Roughly 30 British soldiers are fighting in Ukraine for the Georgian National Legion, its founder has claimed. Mamuka Mamulashvili, speaking to the podcast ‘Battleground: Ukraine’, said on Wednesday that his special operations outfit, which is the largest foreign legion inducted into the Ukrainian military, is made up of dozens of men and women from different nationalities, allegedly including Brits. What was once a small, 70-person outfit prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion is believed to have grown to more than 1,300, according to US publication Radio Liberty, filled with the highest-skilled foreign operatives.
Mr Mamulashvili told ‘Battleground: Ukraine’ that “we do have Brits” in the Georgian Legion, stationed across the country and engaged in various conflicts with the invading Russian forces.
He said: “Generally, I don’t really count nationalities, I just count how many men. But we do have Brits.”
While his outfit is not responsible for foreign volunteer fighters – the International Legion (IL) handles the majority of them – roughly three quarters of those destined for the IL pass through the Georgian unit, which is entrusted with the task of meeting them on the Polish-Ukrainian border and escorting them to the IL base, believed to be in Kyiv.
The soldiers, during this process of escorting, often carry out primary psychological processing and assessment of the personal qualities of potential militants, allegedly nitpicking the top candidates for their own legion.
Last June, he claimed that around 3,000 British volunteers were currently fighting for Ukraine. He told Sky News that he believed there were around 20,000 foreign soldiers in total stationed in the conflict zones fighting the Russian forces.
At the time, he said roughly one in 10 of those foreign legion soldiers were handpicked during their escort to the IL base to fight for the Georgian outfit instead, which is focused on specialised operations.
Last month, US intelligence leaks, which first appeared on an internet forum dedicated to the computer game Minecraft, suggested Britain had 50 special forces personnel stationed in Ukraine.
Those figures, however, which could not be verified, do not appear to offer an exhaustive list of foreign soldiers currently operating in Ukraine.
Mr Mamulashvili claimed that his Georgian Legion was “the first to meet the Russians” near the Hostomel airport, located 6.2 miles northwestern of Kyiv.
The strip, known locally as Antonov Airport as it is home to the headquarters of the nation’s world-renowned freight carrier, Antonov Airlines, became the site of fierce fighting just hours after Vladimir Putin announced the “special military operation” at 5am local time on February 24 last year.
He said: “We were the first to meet the Russians near the Hostomel airport. It was quite surprising really to see Russian forces so close to Kyiv.
“We were the first to engage in a fight with helicopters. It was quite unusual to see.”
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He added: “We arrived and in 30 minutes the fight started.
“Though the Russian fighters mobilised very quickly, it became easy for us when the artillery started.”
The Battle of Antanov, which has become one of the most famous first battles of the full-scale invasion, involved dozens of Russian helicopters, carrying specialist VDV forces, occupying the airport for just over a month.
The Georgian Legion, according to Mr Mamulashvili, was alongside Ukraine’s 4th Rapid Reaction Brigade, which was a specialist response force created in 2015, at the outset of that battle.
The Russian forces attempted to secure the airport as a base within Ukraine from which they would encircle the capital of Kyiv. That ultimately failed and on March 28, the Russian forces were forced to retreat after suffering heavy losses and continual Ukrainian shelling.
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