Thursday, July 13, 2017

Georgian Officer, Embedded with Ukrainian Army,
Tells of Ukraine’s Latest War of Liberation vs Russia

Though many American and other Western pundits write that the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 has evolved into an unknown or forgotten war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is still raging and claiming the lives of defenders and civilians. Russia is forging westward in a bold attempt to repair the torn curtain and restore its prison of nations.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Lt. Mamuka Mamulashvili of the Georgian Army, a warrior with the Georgian Legion, and a former political adviser to the Minister of Defense of Georgia, about his experiences on the front line defending Ukraine’s independence. Mamulashvili, who was in the United States in the late spring, expressed his praise for Ukrainian soldier’s military skills and ability to defend their homeland. He also said Russian imperialism is not an aberration of a single tyrant, President Vladimir Putin, but it is a national mentality. After all, Russians do support Putin in this war against Ukraine.
Mamulashvili also concurred with my question about the urgent need for the former captive nations to establish a common bloc against Russian aggression as they did in 1947 when they formed the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations.
Following is the transcript of the interview:

The Torn Curtain 1991: You began in the military fighting for the independence of your native Georgia and now you are fighting for the independence of Ukraine. Why has this also become your mission?
Lieutenant Mamulashvili: In 1990s, Ukraine was the only country, which openly supported Georgia. There were more than a hundred of Ukrainian volunteers, who fought for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Georgia. Today, we owe the Ukrainian people and are standing at their side.

How many non-Ukrainians are fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces and from where?
There are more than 30 foreigners fighting for Ukraine, 30 men of different nationalities in addition to Georgian. Those soldiers are from USA, Germany, Australia, France, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Chechnya, Russia, Armenia and others.

Is Russia a never-ending imperial threat to all former captive nations, the region and the world? Will it ever change? If Putin is deposed, will his successor also be an imperialist?
Russian imperialism is not only a threat to the former Soviet captive nations but also is a danger to European and world security, because Russia is one of the main financial supporters of terroristic organizations. It is not going to change because it’s the mentality of the people and Putin has all the support of a majority of the Russian population in his aggressive actions. Imperialism is not a mentality of a single man but unfortunately of the whole nation.

Does anyone in Ukraine and Russia still believe that the Russian war in Ukraine is a local separatist conflict instigated by Russian speakers in Donbas? Do people understand that the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 is the direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
Yes, most of the Ukrainian population is informed about what’s going on in the country and is aware that it’s not just a local, internal conflict in Ukraine.

How many troops and equipment does Russia have stationed in Ukraine?
There are more than 30,000 Russian soldiers on the front line. Russia has stationed more than 3,000 armored vehicles (SAU) and heavy artillery weapons.

The former captive nations support thoroughly Ukraine in its war against Russia. Why is it so difficult for the free world to support Ukraine on the same level?
Ukraine doesn’t get that much support but some former Soviet captive nations support Ukraine, for example, Georgia and the Baltic countries. Though, unfortunately, most European countries haven’t set a solid position about the Russian-Ukrainian war. Unfortunately, a lot of European politicians have commercial interests in Russia and they don’t see or they don’t want to see the real danger in today’s invasion of an independent state.

How do you rate the military skills of the Armed Forces of Ukraine including its regular army, National Guard and independent battalions?
There are no independent battalions left. National Guard forces are not effective in the war zone because they have no experience, they have less experience than military forces, and they are more concentrated on police functions around the war zone. Ukrainian Armed Forces today have undergone an evolution and have the greatest experience in direct combat. In my opinion, the Ukrainian army today is able to stop any Russian aggression.

Practically speaking, Ukrainian soldiers are the only troops on earth that have combat experience fighting Russian regular and mercenary soldiers. Shouldn’t the free world be paying more attention to the Ukrainians’ achievements and skills?
Actually, the free world is paying attention. There are groups of military experts who take into account and systematize the experience of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

What more can the United States do to help Ukraine overcome Russian aggression?
First of all United States Government should be more attentive in supporting Ukraine politically in the international arena and, of course, the United States should provide Ukraine with lethal weapons to defend its sovereignty.

Do you think Ukrainian soldiers have the weapons, equipment, knowledge, determination and spirit to prevail against Moscow?
Yes, they have all the skills, qualification and motivation to stop the monster called Russian Empire.

Do Russian soldiers know that they are invaders and aggressors – violators of international law?
Not only Russian soldiers, but also a big part of Russian people are aware of it, but they all support their President. It’s not only a political problem, but a feature of Russian mentality.

Western pundits claim that Russia’s murder of Colonel Maksym Shapoval in late June was meant to undermine and weaken Ukraine’s security capabilities and intimidate its soldiers. Will such acts of Russian terrorism be successful?
Unfortunately, we are facing an enemy that has no morality. The murder of Shapoval is an act of intimidation but I think it’s not going to weaken Ukrainian security or demotivate militaries.

If the current Minsk talks fail to lead to a conclusive evacuation of Russian invaders from Ukraine, would then Ukraine and the other x-captive nations be subjected to ongoing acts of Russian terrorism?
I don’t really think that Minsk talks somehow effect or ever affected ongoing process on the front line. It actually plays a negative role for Ukraine. We have seen two Minsk agreements, which were not productive. Russian terrorism is a threat not only to ex-captive nations, but there’s a very high probability that it will be exported to European and NATO countries.

The OUN, led by Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko, organized in 1947 a clandestine organization of captive nations, called the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), to collectively fight against Russian aggression. In view of Russia’s continuing belligerence, do you think it is time to revive the ABN?
I think it’s the right time and place to consolidate the countries, which experienced Russian aggression after the fall of Soviet Union – countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Baltic countries. I think it would be timely and the idea of creating Georgian Legion, consisting of representatives of different nations, is symbolic today in Ukraine.

CAPTION: Lt. Mamuka Mamulashvili at the head of the Georgian Legion fighting with Ukrainian soldiers in defense of Ukrainian independence against invading Russian combatants and mercenaries.