When Russia sent troops to Ukraine in late February, Georgian lawmaker Areco Elisashibiri rushed to defense without hesitation and fought in the Battle of Irpin within a few days.

For two 44-year-old fathers, the war in Ukraine does more than protect one country from the invasion of Russia.

“We are fighting our common enemies with the Ukrainians-(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s imperialism,” Elisasibili told AFP at his office in Georgia Parliament.

“It is very likely that Russia will attack Georgia again. That is why it is even more important for us that Russia is defeated in Ukraine. That is why many Georgians are fighting in Ukraine.”

Hundreds of Georgians like Elisashvili went to Ukraine to fight in volunteer units such as the Ukrainian Legion of Territory and the Georgian Legion, which are integrated into the army.

Given Georgia’s long and difficult history with Russia and the pro-Western aspirations it shares with Ukraine, their enthusiasm for the fight is not surprising.

The country of the South Caucasus was annexed to Russia twice in its history (1801 and 1921), and finally saw Moscow troops invade its territory in August 2008.

In the five-day war of 2008, which claimed the lives of about 700 people and ended with a ceasefire through the EU, Russia recognized two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Osetia, as independent states, and established a military base there. After being stationed, I left Georgia in a fragmented state.

-The endangered “Georgia’s fate”-

Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of the Georgian Legion of the Ukrainian Army, told AFP that more than 1,000 Georgians went to Ukraine to fight and at least 13 were known to have died.

“Georgia’s fate is determined in Ukraine today. We are fighting for both Ukraine and Georgia. I am convinced that if Ukraine collapses, it will not happen. Georgia’s very existence itself It will be a serious threat, “Mamurashibiri told AFP. Call from Ukraine.

Elisashvili is a reconnaissance unit of the Foreign Legion, consisting of hundreds of volunteers from all over the world, who fought in Ukraine for about 40 days.

He said he witnessed a “Russian war crime” when he spent four days in a partially devastated apartment on the front line at the Battle of Irpin on the outskirts of Kieu.

“Russian troops were deployed across the street. Russian snipers were killing passing civilians. I had a few civilians in a car, a family, and another dead civilian, a man. I saw him killed in. “

The battle began on February 27 as part of Russia’s massive attack on Kieu. Russian troops partially ruled Irpin, but were pushed out by Ukrainian troops who completely re-arrested Irpin on March 28.

Elisashvili said locals began to emerge from the basements where they had been evacuated for days after Russian troops abandoned the town.

“I’ve never seen someone so scared,” he said. “The next night, the Russians were constantly bombing the residential area there with a 122 mm cannon.”

He said the Russian troops in the town appeared unmotivated and confused and were there only for “looting and looting.”

“That’s why it’s unlikely they’ll win in Ukraine,” he said.

“I have never seen anyone as motivated as the Ukrainians, because they know exactly what they are fighting for. They protect their hometown and their families.”

-NATO’s “strategic mistake”-

Returning to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, with his family, Elisasibili returned to work in parliament, where he led a small centrist opposition.

Opponents have accused it of being pro-Russian, but the Georgian government has strongly positioned itself as pro-West.

It condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but avoids harsh criticism of the Kremlin, saying it only adds to Georgia’s problems.

Elisashvili called on the US and European capitals to strengthen their arms supply to Ukraine so that their military advantage could shift to Kyiv.

He said the West made a “strategic mistake” by not accepting Ukraine and Georgia into NATO under pressure from the Kremlin.

“If Ukraine was a NATO member, this war would not have happened. Putin would not have dared to attack NATO.”

At the 2008 summit in Romania months before Russia invaded Georgia, NATO leaders promised to put both countries in a block of 30 members in the future, but officially. I refused to enter the membership pass.

Elisashibiri, who was wary of alienating Russia at the time, said, “Putin, as he is now facing a war at NATO’s gateway and did not stop until Hitler was defeated. Will not stop. “

Putin’s next goal is to “become Poland and the Baltic States,” he said.

“If Russia does not defeat in Ukraine, it will continue to be a constant threat to international peace if it fails to reinvent as a nation.”

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