Kiev’s International Legion

Former elite soldiers from NATO countries – including Germany – participate in the war against Russia in Ukraine. This is considered a substitute for regular NATO deployment.

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/KIEV (Own report) – Former NATO special forces – including Germans – are in combat in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on Ukraine’s side. This was reported by a US news portal. According to this information, over the weekend several western ex-elite soldiers experienced in close combat and counterterrorism are preparing to leave from Poland to join the war in Ukraine. Numerous others are reported to be standing by. The government in Kiev has meanwhile created the legal prerequisites by establishing an “international legion,” to ensure that soldiers of foreign nationalities entering the country will have regular combatant status. Observers consider that the voluntary engagement of former soldiers from the West will substitute, to a certain extent, for the deployment of regular NATO troops, which the military alliance does not want to send, to avoid an official engagement in a war with the nuclear power Russia. These methods are known, for example, from the 1980s Afghanistan war, also involving Bundeswehr soldiers. The “Georgian Legion” is currently a point of contact in Ukraine.


The Georgian Legion

The Georgian Legion was originally one of the various irregular militias formed in the course of 2014, to fight in eastern Ukraine against the pro-Russian People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. They had seceded from Ukraine following the coup in Kiev, of course, without being internationally recognized as full-fledged nations. In the militias, many irregulars from other countries of the former Soviet Union were fighting alongside Ukrainians. For example, one militia was comprised of exiled Chechens, who were continuing their fight in Ukraine, after their own uprising had been defeated (the “Dzhokhar Dudayev” Battalion).[1] Another unit formed in 2014, is the Georgian Legion, with a strong presence of former soldiers from Georgia’s military, including veterans of the Russia-Georgian war of August 2008. In 2017, the unit made international headlines, when three Georgians testified to Italian TV journalists that they had been recruited in Tbilisi in January 2014, for a mission in Kiev on the side of the Maidan opposition and, on February 20, 2014, took part in firing the fatal shots at the Maidan. They testified that they had been recruited and commanded by the Georgian Mamuka Mamulashvilli, today’s commander of the Georgian Legion.[2]

“To Foster Exchange”

The Georgian Legion had caught the attention of observers already years ago, because the US citizen Craig Lang had been one of its members, for a short period. Lang, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, had gone to Ukraine as an irregular, in 2015. He had been under investigation by judicial authorities in the USA, suspected of having committed war crimes in eastern Ukraine. After having returned to the USA, he, along with another former irregular, had committed a murder and robbery, to raise money for his trip to Venezuela, where he sought to join the struggle against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. He was able to flee, however, he landed in jail in Kiev pending extradition.[3] In eastern Ukraine, Lang had mainly fought in the Right Sector militia, which along with the Asov Battalion, is one of the best-known extreme right-wing militias in Ukraine. Recent research indicates that extreme right-wing Ukrainians, who feel close to the Asov Battalion, but aspire to a career in the armed forces, have participated in training programs abroad – according to research, even in Germany. For example, a Ukrainian soldier, with extreme right-wing views, is said to have attended the “30th International Week” of the Army Officers Academy (OSH) in Dresden. This event is deemed to foster not only an “exchange among military personnel” but “partnerships” as well. [4]

“We are recruiting professionals”

As was reported by the US portal BuzzFeed News, the Georgian Legion has integrated more than 300 western irregulars since 2014, giving them the possibility of participating in the civil war raging in eastern Ukraine. Over the past few weeks, it has been accelerating its efforts to recruit more foreign volunteers from the West. Already at the end of January, Mamulashvilli reported that his unit had received “more than 30 requests” – most from the United States and Great Britain, but also “one from Germany.”[5] “We are recruiting professionals,” explained Mamulashvilli, to BuzzFeed News, noting that the Georgian Legion makes military capabilities a condition for joining, and added, in late January, “We have the green light.“ Following publication of that article, the US online portal reported having received emails from “dozens of men in the USA, the United Kingdom and countries in the European Union,” saying they were interested in fighting in Ukraine against Russian units, if they should really invade the country. On Sunday, BuzzFeed News announced that ten elite soldiers experienced in close combat and counterterrorism are preparing to cross the Polish border to Ukraine, to go to war. The group is composed of six US citizens, three Brits, and a German.[6]

In the Chain of Command

Kiev has now established the legal prerequisites for the militias’ combat volunteers to be treated not as irregular combatants, but as regular soldiers, enjoying the full protection of humanitarian international law. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on the weekend, the armed forces have now created an “International Legion,” allowing citizens of foreign countries to join. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed that now these people have the “legal framework, to fight under the chain of command of the armed forces of Ukraine,” without being a Ukrainian citizen.[7] The chain of command also includes the Georgian Legion which, in 2016, had been integrated into the armed forces. On the side of the West, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, gave the “green light,” when she declared on Sunday that she “definitely” supports British nationals who might go to Ukraine to fight against Russia. As official policy, the latter is new. In 2014, the British Crown Prosecution Service explicitly warned, British citizens, traveling to Syria, to join the war, would be committing a crime, if they joined the Syrian insurgents, seeking to overthrow President Bashar al Assad. Overthrowing Assad was one of the British government’s political objectives, at the time.

Like Afghanistan

There is an obvious parallel between the participation of non-active-duty soldiers from western armed forces entering combat against the Russian Army in Afghanistan during the 1980s and today’s war in Ukraine. Back then, West German soldiers, and others, were officially granted a leave of absence to go fight at the Hindu Kush.[8] In addition, like today, the uprising against Soviet troops was supported with weaponry. The most prominent parallel is, that back then, like today, western countries provided portable “Stinger” air defense missiles. In Afghanistan, these proved also decisive for the Soviet defeat.[9]



[1] Mark MacKinnon: Chechens and Georgians in Ukraine preparing to continue fight against Putin on a new front. 13.02.2022.

[2] Guerra in Ucraina, le verità nascoste. Canale 5, 15.11.2017. Gian Micalessin: La versione dei cecchini sulla strage di Kiev: “Ordini dall'opposizione”. 15.11.2017. S. auch Chaos säen (II).

[3] Christopher Miller: NATO Won’t Put Troops Into Ukraine, But Western Foreigners Are Volunteering To Join The Fight Against Russia. 28.01.2022.

[4] Nicholas Potter: Wie rechtsextreme Soldaten in der Ukraine vom Westen ausgebildet werden. 19.01.2022.

[5] Christopher Miller: NATO Won’t Put Troops Into Ukraine, But Western Foreigners Are Volunteering To Join The Fight Against Russia. 28.01.2022.

[6] Christopher Miller: A Team Of American And British Special Forces Veterans Are Preparing To Join Ukraine’s Fight Against Russia. 27.02.2022. Briten und Amerikaner schicken Spezialkommandos in die Ukraine. 28.02.2022.

[7] Tom Sables: Ukraine invites foreign volunteers to combat invading Russian forces. 27.02.2022.

[8] S. dazu Der Krieg kehrt heim (II).

[9] S. dazu Die Zeitenwende.