Ukraine conflict, kadyrovtsy and Chechnya

Kadyrovtsy and other Chechen military volunteers gathered in Grozny ready to fight in Ukraine (Credits: CC BY 4.0, Chechnya Today)

The Chechen kadyrovtsy might have been deployed in Ukraine to support the Russian troops. This news caused the reaction of the Caucasus Emirate and underlined the important role that Chechnya plays in the Kremlin’s foreign policy and military strategy.

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, published footage on his unofficial Instagram story that indirectly confirms the rumours about sending the Chechen military to an operation in Ukrainian Mariupol. As Chechnya Today reported on its Instagram profile chechnyatoday_95,  last evening Umar Daudov, the Ramzan Kadyrov’s assistant, published a video from the plane of the Head of Chechnya which raised numerous rumours that the Chechen leader flew to the territory of Ukraine or Donbas. According to unconfirmed reports, representatives of the power structures of the Chechen Republic are currently on the territory of Ukraine or Donbas, where Russian troops are conducting a military operation to ‘neutralise’ Ukrainian military capabilities and overthrow the Government (Ukraine conflict: fighting north of Kyiv).

Furthermore, on February 25th, 2022, Ramzan Kadyrov spoke to more than 12,000 servicemen gathered in the centre of Grozny and noted that these are volunteers who are ready at any moment to defend the state and liberate citizens from violence and oppression on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).

Although the editors of Chechnya Today failed to contact Umar Daudov for a comment, the news caused interest among the Chechens and the North Caucasian militants. Indeed, the website Kavkazcenter.com, well-known for its connection with the North Caucasian militants, reported the news adding the comment of Abu Hamza, Amir of the Mujahideen-Muhajirs of the Vilayat Nokhchichoy of Imarat Kavkaz (the Caucasus Emirate).

Abu Hamza said that the possible presence of the Chechen kadyrovtsy (a Chechen paramilitary organisation that serves as protection of Ramzan Kadyrov) demonstrated that the Chechen leader is one of the many Putin’s puppets who follow the Russian president in every mission. According to Lugansk’s local sources, around 300-500 kadyrovtsy are based at Druzhba Hotel, and their number might increase, although Abu Hamza did not believe there will be no mass mobilisation.

Why does it matter?

The role of the kadyrovtsy is more psychological than actually combative since they are famous for their bravery and brutal combat method in the post-Soviet space. As some analysts pointed out, the Chechen troops might probably support the private military company, Wagner, and the Russian forces against Ukrainian forces and conduct so-called ‘counter-terrorism operations’ on the ground.

Considering that Abu Hamza stated that there is no Islamic basis in participating in the war for Chechen and North Caucasian fighters, it is hard to believe that Caucasian volunteers might join the Ukrainians in the fight against the Russian troops unless the parties sign a beneficial agreement approved by the highest Ukrainian authorities.

The Chechen possible military presence in the Ukrainian conflict highlights the influential role that Chechnya plays in Moscow’s foreign policy and military strategy, considering that in the past, the Kremlin deployed the Chechens also in Syria and supported counter-terrorism cooperation between kadyrovtsy and Chinese authorities and military forces in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Author: Giuliano Bifolchi