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29.04.11 - 05.05.11

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Russian mercenaries again

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The Russian media is reporting that up to 500 soldiers, citizens of Russia, have been added to the forces of the Defense Ministry of separatist Abkhazia. Kishmaria, Defense Minister of the separatist government has admitted that their salary, which is approximately 50 thousand Russian rubles, will be paid from the Russian state budget. The size of the salaries has drawn much attention as many officers serving in the regular Russian army are not paid as much.

For the last 20 years the use of mercenaries has always been a sore point for Georgia. The separatist governments of Ossetia and Abkhazia have always received help from armed mercenaries from Russia and other former-Soviet republics in their secessionist conflicts.

Whilst Georgia is known to have used Ukrainian “Una-Unso” troops, their significance pales in comparison with the thousands of Russians, Chechens or other North-Caucasians who fought against Georgia in the 1990s and in 2008. It seems that Sokhumi and Tskhinvali have not forgotten this tradition, and are continuing to use mercenaries despite the fact that they need Russia bases and soldiers to keep order in their regimes.

The Abkhaz army is making no pretense that its soldiers are not as disciplined and well-trained as their Russian colleagues.

Even the Abkhaz admit that every Abkhaz soldier has their own agenda, and after receiving an order many try get out of their duties, while Russian soldiers fulfill their orders without question or comment. Though one can see their logic: Why should the Abkhaz waste the few men of fighting age they have when they can get hired Russians to fight, especially when the Russian state budget is picking up the bill?

This may seem like a good idea in the short term, however the Abkhaz government will soon realize that it is through decisions like this that Russian imperial interests will penetrate through every structure of Abkhaz society.

Separatist Tskhinvali however is more enthusiastic about Russian occupation, and is ready to join the North Ossetian republic even today, unlike the majority of Abkhazians who would like to be independent from both Georgian and Russian. It is however obvious achieving true independence will not be easy.

Editor’s Note: Irakli Aladashvili is

Editor-in-chief of Arsenali, the military analytical magazine

By Irakli Aladashvili

29.04.2011

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