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ISW: Russia's Defense Ministry signals support for Chechen units in Ukraine amid interethnic tensions

by Olena Goncharova October 4, 2023 5:49 AM 2 min read
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed gratitude to Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov for overseeing the creation of military units in Chechnya during an Oct. 3 conference with Russian military leadership, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

Shoigu claimed that these Chechen units have “proven themselves worthy” in the war in Ukraine and revealed that over 14,500 Russian military personnel received training at the Russian Special Forces University in Gudermes, Chechnya, before being deployed to Ukraine.  

Kadyrov claimed on Oct. 2 that more than 30,000 Chechens, including over 14,000 volunteers, have been sent to Ukraine. The ISW notes that this public acknowledgment by Shoigu signals the Russian Defense Ministry's support for these units, which comes amid increasing interethnic tensions and recent controversies in Russia regarding statements about the capabilities of Chechen "Akhmat" forces compared to regular Russian forces.

The Kremlin also publicly indicated its support for Kadyrov’s style of rule in Chechnya following significant public outcry against Kadyrov and his son. On Oct. 2, Ramzan Kadyrov expressed support for appointing his 24-year-old daughter, Aishat Kadyrova, as Deputy Prime Minister for Social Issues in Chechnya, a proposal put forth by Chechen Prime Minister Muslim Khuchiev.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded to questions about Kadyrova’s appointment by saying that regional appointments are within the prerogative of the regional head, implying support for Kadyrov's decisions.

This follows a controversy involving Kadyrov's praise for his son, Adam Kadyrov, who allegedly beat a detainee accused of burning a Quran. Despite calls for an investigation by members of the Russian Human Rights Council, the ISW says it appears that the Russian government is unlikely to punish individuals involved, including Kadyrov or his son.  

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