Shortly after declaring his willingness to commit 70,000 fighters from his Islamist militia to support the military invasion of Ukraine, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Russian Federation’s Muslim-majority Chechen Republic, has announced that Chechen fighters have been deployed to Ukraine.
The announcement comes a day after a massive rally in the Chechen capital of Grozny, in front of some 12,000 so-called ‘local volunteers,’ where Kadyrov, a former separatist rebel who has become one of Putin’s most useful allies, delivered a fiery speech in front of the assembled masses, who responded with the infamous Islamic battle cry “Allahu Akbar!”
“I want to give some advice to current President Zelensky before he becomes the ex-president of Ukraine. He should call our president as quickly as possible, the commander-in-chief Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, and ask for forgiveness,” Kadyrov cried out to the assembly of zealous supporters, adding that he could recruit 70,000 troops to fight throughout Ukraine, the U.K. newspaper The Times reported.
Initially, it was unclear as to whether Kadyrov’s Islamist battalions had actually depl. On Saturday evening, however, Chechnya Today reported that Kadyrov’s shock troops were in fact on Ukrainian soil, sharing a video clip that appears to show a Chechen soldier removing a Ukrainian flag from a state administrative building and hoisting a Russian flag in its place.
On Friday, Chechen soldiers believed to be from the South battalion of the Federal Guard Service were spotted in wooded area somewhere in Ukraine, where they were seen taking part in Islamic prayer rituals ahead of a potential battle. Although various media outlets have claimed that the gathering place was somewhere outside of Kiev, those reports remain unsubstantiated.
On Saturday, in a video posted online, Kadyrov, who in the mid-90s participated in the deadly Islamist insurgency against Moscow—but who years later defected to the Russian side—gloated that Chechen units deployed to Ukraine had so far suffered no casualties, adding that Russian forces could effortlessly take control of Ukraine’s major cities, including the capital city of Kiev, Reuters reports.
“As of today, as of this minute, we do not have one single casualty, or wounded, not a single man has even had a runny nose,” Kadyrov said.
“The president [Putin] took the right decision and we will carry out his orders under any circumstances,” the Chechen leader added.
Kadyrov’s statements, however, contradict reports allegedly confirmed by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense which stated Russian-Chechen General Magomed Tushayev was killed on Saturday—the second day of his deployment—during heavy clashes at a crucial airport on the outskirts of Kiev.