Reports emerged today that units of Russia’s 4th military base in occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, including local contractors, have departed to join the war against Ukraine.
Footage published by Telegram channel Vladikavkaz News showed at least five tanks and 10 armored personnel carriers and five self-propelled artillery supposedly filmed near the town of Alagir in Russia’s North Ossetia.
According to the channel, the convoy had arrived from the Tskhinvali Region. Some of the units can be seen flying Ossetian tricolor banners.
Earlier footage, also disseminated on Telegram, showed convoy of at least five tanks, three fire support vehicle and one truck transporting through Tskhinvali.
It was not immediately clear whether the footages showed the same convoy, or how many troops the units carried.
Former South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said in Telegram post that “our guys are going to Ukraine… they are highly motivated, I have talked to many of them.”
“They are coming to avenge our brothers. They are relatives and friends of those who died in Ukraine.”
Current Tskhinvali leadership has not publicly confirmed sending any S. Ossetian servicemen to partake in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But, S. Ossetian “defense ministry” reported today that Sergeant Andrei Bakaev of Russia’s 58th Army, a Tskhinvali native, had died in combat in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, according to RFE/RL’s Russian-language service Ekho Kavkaza, Tskhinvali residents criticized leader Anatoly Bibilov on social media over S. Ossetian contractors being sent to the war, pinning the blame on him for their army being largely integrated with Russian military.
As per the military deal with Moscow, signed in 2017, parts of the S. Ossetian forces are joined with Russia’s 4th military base in the region, while the number of its remaining forces is agreed with the Kremlin.
The 4th military base falls under the command of Russia’s Southern Military District.
NB: This article was updated with corrected details about the vehicles.