Chechen forces led by Kadyrov set to mobilise on Russian frontlines in Ukraine

Chechen forces led by Kadyrov set to mobilise on Russian frontlines in Ukraine
2 min read
01 June, 2023
Amid a series of disasters in Russia's war in Ukraine, Putin is once again looking to mobilise Chechnya's fighting forces to turn the tide in a war that Russia seems to be losing.
Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov has described himself as Putin's "foot soldier" [Getty]

Chechen units under the command of leader Ramzan Kadyrov have been ordered to the frontlines in Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to a report issued by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on Thursday. 

The move came after the withdrawal of Wagner Group mercenaries from the occupied Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Kadyrov claimed that his forces had received “a new order” for “active combat activities” to “liberate a number of settlements”.   

Kadyrov claimed that Chechnya’s “Akhmat” special forces would be concentrated on the frontlines in Donetsk, particularly around the destroyed city of Marinka.

According to the ISW, “the … mention of 'Akhmat' operations in the Marinka direction a day prior to Wagner’s initial claimed withdrawal date on June 1 indicates that Putin may have coerced Kadyrov into assuming an offensive role in the war to compensate for Wagner’s likely culmination.”

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After their early involvement in offensive operations in Mariupol, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk as part of Russia’s war machine, Chechen units have primarily operated in non-combat roles in areas behind the frontline for the last year.

The move to mobilise them as a frontline fighting force came as Vladimir Putin’s forces had faced a series of major setbacks in their widely condemned war on Ukraine. Most alarmingly for Russia, Ukraine has now begun its own assault on the Russian territory of Belgorod.

“The Kremlin may perceive Chechen units as an untapped assault force that can restore Russia’s ability to sustain simultaneous offensive efforts on multiple axes of advance,” the ISW said. However, they further conclude that Kadyrov’s claim of having 7,000 Chechen soldiers in Ukraine will not be enough for Russia “to mount multiple significant offensive operations successfully”.

Claiming to be a "foot-soldier" of Putin, Kadyrov has previously deployed his forces during Russian military attacks on Syria and Georgia.