Putin sends the Kadyrovtsy to the front – that’s how brutal the special unit is

The Kadyrovtsy are considered an extremely brutal special unit. Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov boasts about the deployment of his men in Ukraine.

“It’s better to die than finish second.” This quote is from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. The 46-year-old, who is the sole ruler of a brutal regime in the former Soviet republic of Chechnya, persecuting and killing members of the opposition and homosexuals, likes to present himself as belligerent and death-defying.

Kadyrov is not a man of soft tones. He claimed to be able to do with his men what the Russian special units had not been able to do at the beginning of the illegal attack on Ukraine: take Kiev. His boasting last year was followed by clear criticism of Russian war tactics.

Kadyrov’s Chechen security forces are now supposed to help take over parts of the Donbass, not Kiev. This is reported by the US think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in its current situation report. Accordingly, the Russian high command ordered Kadyrov and his men to Bachmut to take the place of the withdrawing Wagner mercenaries. After months of fighting for the city, the troopers of the Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin appear to be exhausted.

“The city is completely destroyed. Completely”

Kadyrov himself commented in detail on the relevant reports. Among other things, he and his soldiers should help secure the front line of the Donetsk region and carry out offensive operations. According to the ISW, the Chechen dictator, who also describes himself as “Putin’s foot soldier”, speaks of “active combat operations” for the purpose of “liberating various towns”.

The special units “Achmat” and “Sever-Achmat” (named after Kadyrov’s father Achmat), which were founded after the outbreak of the Ukraine war, are also said to be involved, which are to advance in the direction of the small town of Marinka, southwest of Donetsk.

Ramzan Kadyrov visiting the Kremlin (archive photo): The Chechen dictator maintains excellent contacts with Vladimir Putin (left). (Source: IMAGO/Mikhail Klimentyev)

To speak of the city would be saying too much, however, because since the liberation of Russian-occupied Marinka by Ukrainian troops in November 2022, the city has resembled a post-apocalyptic landscape of rubble, similar to Bakhmut. “The city is completely destroyed. Completely,” Marinka’s police chief Arthur Schus told the AP news agency. Russian artillery in particular has literally pulverized the place. Now the Kadyrowzy are to take Marinka again.

Kadyrov’s former bodyguards have been accused of murder and torture by human rights organizations, but the militia was officially incorporated into the Russian army in 2006 and has served as an integral part of Putin’s army ever since. Officially, their mission is to fight enemies within. However, the Kadyrovtsy have been appearing in Ukraine since the Russian invasion of Crimea. They have also been active in Syria on several occasions.

Kadyrov's army parade in the Chechen capital of Grozny (archive photo).
Kadyrov’s soldiers at a parade in honor of the 70th birthday of Russian ruler Vladimir Putin in Grozny (archive photo). (Those: IMAGO/Yelena Afonina)

The military magazine “Oryx” calls the Chechen special forces the “fire brigade of the front” because the Kadyrovtsy are always called out when an operation is particularly sensitive. The Islamic fighters are considered fearless and extremely ruthless, and they use psychological warfare.

“The (psychological warfare) is intended to make people believe that what is happening in Chechnya is also happening in Ukraine,” Caucasus expert Jean-François Ratelle told US magazine Foreign Policy. “That they (the Kadyrovtsy) invade the city, set everything on fire, rape and kill.” The Chechen soldiers like to glorify their deeds on videos and publish them on social media, which is why the Kadyrovtsy are also nicknamed the “TikTok Brigade”.

Kadyrovtsy as “Putin’s infantry troops”

On his Telegram profile, Kadyrov wrote that his commanders had drawn up plans for the capture of certain towns in the Donetsk region after Chechen Duma deputy Adam Delimchanov issued an order to use the Kadyrovtsy. Now the region is under his “responsibility,” Kadyrov boasted on Telegram.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov at a parade in honor of the 70th birthday of Russian ruler Vladimir Putin in Grozny (archive photo).
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (left) and Chechnya’s Interior Minister Ruslan Alskhanov (archive photo). (Those: IMAGO/Yelena Afonina)


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