A Georgian citizen fighting on the Ukrainian side in the east of the country was killed in the Luhansk region, Ukrainian and Georgian media sources reported.
32-year-old Alexandre Grigolashvili, who fought under nom de guerre “Chuzhoy”, died in the town of Shchastya on December 19.
Ukraine said five of its soldiers were killed on December 19 - the heaviest losses since December 9 when the latest attempt at a ceasefire was made.
Last week Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 television channel ran a lengthy report from eastern Ukraine about Georgian soldiers fighting on the Ukrainian side. Three Georgians from unit known as “Georgian Legion” were interviewed, among them was Grigolashvili.
“Georgian National Legion is helping Ukrainians. Our task is to train them, to assist them in reconnaissance… It was our patriotic will to help Ukrainians in [fight] against invaders,” Grigolashvili told Rustavi 2 TV in the interview, which was recorded at the town of Shchastya.
Grigolashvili was also interviewed recently by the Ukrainian television channel, Inter, in which he says that he is with the Aidar battalion for “more than a month.” The interview was recorded when member of the Georgian lawmaker from the UNM opposition party, Giorgi Baramidze, vice-speaker of the Parliament, visited eastern Ukraine earlier this week; he visited Ukrainian forces’ positions at the frontline in the east of the country.
Public service commemorating Grigolashvili, whose body is expected to be flown to Georgia either tonight or on Sunday, was held in the center of Kiev on Saturday with participation of Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, MP Giorgi Baramidze, and Georgia’s ambassador to Ukraine Mikheil Ukleba.
Number of Georgian volunteers fighting for Ukraine was not reported, but Rustavi 2 TV said in its report that Georgians were in various Ukrainian battalions in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as in southern coastal town of Mariupol.
One Georgian, who was identified as a member of the Georgian Legion in Ukraine, told Rustavi 2 that there also were Georgians fighting on the opposite side, sent into eastern Ukraine by Russia.
“It’s not yet clear where and how they are trained, but I hope we will find it out,” he said, adding that one of the Georgians, fighting on the side of Russian-backed separatists, had recently been arrested by the Ukrainian forces.
There were also reports about fighters from breakaway South Ossetia fighting on the side of Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. South Ossetian leader, Leonid Tibilov, made a statement on December 10, calling on them to return back.