Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 29 Issue 1
Author: Giuliano Bifolchi
The presence of the Musul’manskij korpus “Kavkaz” in the Ukraine conflict stressed the significant role that volunteer battalions have in supporting Kyiv and fighting against the Russian Federation, which they consider an imminent threat to the Ukrainian territory and the Muslim umma.
On February 26th, 2023, the so-called group Musul’manskij korpus “Kavkaz” (Muslim Corp “Caucasus” – MK Kavkaz) released a video to inform its followers and supporters that its militants are fighting in Bakhmut since the Russian armed forces have not yet entirely conquered the city.
The video titled “Musul’manskij korpus “Kavkaz” zashhishhaet Ukrainu 🇺🇦 ot orkov👹 rashistov v Bahmute…!” (Muslim Corps Caucasus defends Ukraine from the racist orcs in Bakhmut) shown three men in combat stance in front of a building with the sound of fighting in the background. The video was also spread among several social networks and published on the Telegram Channel, which belongs to the fighter Muaz Kabardinsky, the man with the beard who spoke in the video.
In an interview published on YouTube Channel “Mil Coach“, Muaz Kabardinsky showed on his uniform the labels of the Circassian flag and the ‘AntiTerror’ operation.
According to open sources, MK Kavkaz is a Caucasian Muslim volunteer combat unit formed in 2022, which participates in the Ukraine conflict on the side of Ukraine. As the group members declared, MK Kavkaz was created on the initiative of people from the Caucasus who profess Islam and live on the territory of Ukraine. Most of them are servicemen of the Ukrainian army who took part in the hostilities in Donbas in 2014-2016.
The group has Muslim fighters from the Caucasus and people from different nationalities living in Ukraine. Some media agencies in the Russian language stated that among the MK Kavkaz, there are Azerbaijani, Dagestani, Chechen, and Turkish fighters.
MK Kavkaz’s combatants believe they “are obliged to fight in this war in the name of Ukraine because we are citizens of Ukraine and must protect the territorial integrity and people of our country. The corps controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces consists of Muslims who want to participate in this war.“.
Furthermore, MK Kavkaz’s commander underlined that “because you (Muslims from the Caucasus) are the successors of your worthy ancestors. If you cannot take the side of Ukraine and help us in this war, at least step aside and don’t intervene. You can help us with your prayers. Be on the side of justice.“.
In their pictures and videos, MK Kavkaz showed the group’s flag, which, on a black background, has the image of the Caucasus region in white. Inside the area, there is the phrase in Arabic لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله (lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāh wa muḥammad rasūlu -llāh – There is no deity, but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God). On the top of the flag in Arabic, there is the writing القوقاز الموحد (United Caucasus).
On his Telegram Channel, the Russian TV anchor-man and journalist Ruslan Ostashko reported that Turkish organisation Ulubey Corp sponsored MK Kavkaz.
Why does it matter?
MK Kavkaz underlines the link between the Ukraine conflict and the Caucasus region. It is possible to ascribe this volunteer combat group in the context of volunteer battalions that support the Ukrainian forces and fight against the Russian troops.
As SpecialEurasia reported before, at the moment, according to open sources and media outlets, the Chechen battalions Shaykh Mansur and Dzhokhar Dudayev, the Georgian National Legion, the Crimean-Tatar Battalion Noman Chelebidzhikhan, and the Turan Battalion are fighting in the Ukrainian territory against the Russian military forces.
In addition, since January, militants of the terrorist group Ajnad al-Kavkaz have arrived in Ukraine to support Kyiv’s fight against Moscow and side with Chechen militants.
Looking at the profile of the battalions present in the Ukrainian conflict and adding them to the volunteers currently fighting in the International Legion promoted by Kyiv, it is possible to say that what is happening in Ukraine has taken on a decidedly international character.
The Ukraine conflict caused the confrontation between Moscow, Brussels, and Washington. Indeed, since the beginning of the conflict in February 2022, the West has adopted different economic sanctions packages against Moscow and sent military weapons and equipment supporting the Ukrainian armed forces. On the other hand, the Ukraine conflict has also attracted the interest of several geopolitical non-state actors who have flocked to Ukrainian territory to support Kyiv and simultaneously pursue a latent goal of their own.
Indeed, as Muaz Kabardinsky stated in an interview, after the end of the Ukraine conflict “and the victory over Russia, Ukraine can help” by avoiding Muslim fighters will be extradited to Russia where they are considered ‘terrorists’.
The presence of Ajnad al-Kavkaz militants raises the regional geopolitical risk. It confirms the fears that the Ukrainian territory could become an attractive place for several jihadist fighters. Therefore, the Ukrainian conflict can become a significant ‘training ground’ where the various foreign fighters can acquire military experience and get hold of modern weapons.