Bagramyan Battalion

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Bagramyan Battalion
Participant in War in Abkhazia (1992–93)
Active 1990–1995
Leaders Vagharshak Kosyan
Sergei Matosyan
Strength 1,500
Part of Abkhazia
Opponents Georgia
Battles and wars Battle of Sukhumi

The Bagramyan Battalion (Armenian: Բաղրամյանի անվան գումարտակ) was a battalion formed in Abkhazia and predominantly composed of ethnic Armenians living in Abkhazia that fought together with Russia backed separatist Abkhaz forces during the War in Abkhazia (1992–93).[1] Named in honour of the Soviet Armenian Marshal Ivan Bagramyan, the battalion fought against the forces of Georgia.[2] It was subsequently disbanded.

A total of 1,500 Armenians participated in the war, a quarter of the Abkhazian army. Twenty Armenians were awarded the highest honor Hero of Abkhazia and 242 were killed in battle.[3] The first President of Abkhazia Vladislav Ardzinba praised the high discipline, organization, and accomplishments of the Bagramyan Battalion.[4]

History[edit]

After the beginning of the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict in 1992, Georgian troops entered the territory of Abkhazia. According to the Abkhaz, Russian, and Armenian sources, they began committing atrocities against non-Georgians, including the Armenian population.[5][6][7] Although the Armenians of Abkhazia originally wished to remain netural, the looting and violence committed by the Georgian army, including reports of rape and murder, had consequently caused Armenians to favor the Abkhazian side.[3] The Armenians of the Gagra community, which had an Armenian majority, convened a meeting of leadership where it was decided to officially support the Abkhazs and take up arms against the Georgians.[8][9][10] A Sukhumi-based Armenian newspaper reported:

At first, we were trying not to mess around, but then the Georgians exerted so much cruelty against Armenians that we had to back the Abkhazians. They would invade the houses and rob and torture the people. In Labra, they seated a married couple on chairs with holes on the seats and burned them. They were raping the women. It was impossible to stay neutral.[3]

An Armenian motorized infantry battalion named after Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Bagramyan was established under Vagharshak Kosyan on 9 February 1993 and became part of the Abkhazian armed forces.[4][11] Combat vehicles of the battalion were decorated with the Armenian flag. The battalion also included women in medical platoons.[4]

The first fight that involved the battalion, under the command of a company led by Levon Daschyan, was during the second assault Sukhum on 15–16 March 1993. Afterwards the battalion captured a strategic and well-fortified bridge over the Gumista River.[12]

The battalion was later joined by Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers who fought in the ranks of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army for the Nagorno-Karabakh War. They, as well as professional soldiers, including those employed under a contract, were involved in the preparations of the battalion. A second Armenian battalion was organized in Gagra. The estimated total of Armenians participants of the war is about 1,500, a quarter of the Abkhazian army.[3][10]

In September 1993, after fruitless negotiations, the Abkhaz side started an operation against Georgian forces in the Battle of Sukhumi, which was attended by both the Bagramyan Battalion. From 25–27 September, Armenian units marched deep into the city from the village Yashtuha and crawl down the street along the Besletka Chanba River. Armenians first came to the building of the Council of Ministers, the base of authority over the capital. During the storming of the city, Armenian soldiers captured 25 prisoners.[7]

After the capture of Sukhumi, the Bagramyan Battalion was deployed in the Kodori Valley, where it was tasked to protect Armenian-populated villages. In March 1994, it began operations to capture the village of Lata. During these final stages, the battlaion was commanded by Sergei Matosyan, who was the only Armenian of the war to command Abkhaz troops.[7]

After the arrival of peacekeeping personnel, the battalion disbanded. Twenty Armenians were awarded the highest honor Hero of Abkhazia and 242 were killed in battle.[3] The first President of Abkhazia Vladislav Ardzinba praised the high discipline, organization, and accomplishments of the Bagramyan Battalion.[4]

The battalion was reported to have been disbanded in 1995 or 1996, though Georgian reports claimed it was still active in 1998 shortly before the Six-Day War in Abkhazia (20–26 May 1998).[13][14][15] Former members of the battalion later took part in defending the Armenian majority Gulripshi District from the Chechen militant groups of Ruslan Gelayev.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bagramyan Battalion MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base
  2. ^ Abkhazia Armenians: Holding a home in an unstable territory, AGBU, 1 November 2004
  3. ^ a b c d e "ABKHAZIA ARMENIANS: HOLDING A HOME IN AN UNSTABLE TERRITORY". Armenian General Benevolent Union. 1 November 2004. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Вагаршак Косян: «Если мы не можем защитить себя, значит мы - не армяне»" (in Russian). Yerkramas. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Абхазская проблема: "революция роз" не состоится" (in Russian). Prognosis.ru. 6 January 2004. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Абхазия: тернистый путь к миру" (in Russian). old.redstar.ru. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Спартак Жидков: Армянский батальон в грузино-абхазской войне" (in Russian). Regnum. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  8. ^ Abkhazia Armenians: Holding A Home In An Unstable Territory
  9. ^ "Roots of the 1992-1993 Georgian-Abkhaz Armed Conflict". Moscow Defense Brief. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "АРМЯНСКИЙ АКЦЕНТ ГРУЗИНО-АБХАЗСКОГО КОНФЛИКТА" (in Russian). Abkhazia.narod.ru. November 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Когда засада является целью жизни" (in Russian). apsny.ge. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Батальон им. Баграмяна" (in Russian). REN TV. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  13. ^ Tan, Andrew T .H. "Politics of Terrorism: A Survey". Rutledge, London. 
  14. ^ Bagramyan Battalion attacked Utilities target (May 10, 1998, Georgia), Information Source Tbilisi Prime-News
  15. ^ Vakhtang Kholbaia, Raphiel Gelantia, David Latsuzbaia, Teimuraz Chakhrakia (trans. Nana Japaridze-Chkhoidze; 1999), Labyrinth of Abkhazia, page 34. The Parliament of Georgia, Tbilisi.