Mariupol, 4 April 2022 (TDI): Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic has arrived in Mariupol, Ukraine. It is being speculated by Western experts that he will finalize the strategies for taking over the port city.

Mariupol is a southeastern Ukrainian city and is situated on the north coast of the Sea of Azov, in the Pryazovia region. As of 2021, it was the tenth-largest city in Ukraine and was the second-largest in Donetsk as of 2001.

Role of the Chechens in the Russia-Ukraine War

Russia is using the presence of fierce Chechen fighters under Kadyrov more as a psychological weapon against Ukraine. On 25th February, a day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ramzan Kadyrov gathered 10,000 supporters in Grozny, the Chechen capital city, to support Russian forces in Ukraine.

He also confirmed that 70,000 volunteers “were ready to fulfill Putin’s orders.” Kadyrov’s forces have played a critical role in the Russian offensive. Kadyrov leads tens of thousands of men known as Kadyrovtsy.

The Kadyrovtsy are a paramilitary organization in Chechnya. The organization serves as the protection of the Head of the Chechen Republic. Chechen National Guard troops had been spotted around the Chernobyl nuclear exclusion zone on 27 February, toward the Ukrainian capital.

Other sources also prove their involvement in the attack on Kyiv’s western suburbs and the vital Hostomel airport. On March 3, Ukraine also claimed that a group of Chechnian soldiers was sent to infiltrate Kyiv to assassinate Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

However, Kadyrov’s support for Putin sparked widespread controversy which was deemed as taking part in crimes against humanity. Other countries also reacted vociferously against Chechens for taking part in the carnage against humanity and the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Nevertheless, Kadyrovtsy are not the only Chechens in Ukraine. On the Ukrainian side, anti-Russian Chechen units, including many veterans of the first and second Chechen wars, have taken up arms against Russia.

Two main units of the Chechens are active on the Ukrainian side; the Sheikh Mansur Battalion and the Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion. These units were formed in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea.

The Sheikh Mansur Battalion is active in southeast Ukraine, especially in Mariupol. Apparently, these units are working in close coordination with the Ukrainian army. The Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion recently announced its reactivation against Russia.

The Chechen Republic 

The North Caucasus of Eastern Europe is a mountainous region that includes Chechnya close to the Caspian Sea and lies near to important commerce and trade routes between Russia and the Middle East. Chechnya, officially the Chechen Republic, is a republic of Russia.

The republic is a part of the North Caucasian Federal District, and shares continuity with Georgia to its south; Stavropol Krai to its northwest, and the Russian republics of Ingushetia, Dagestan, and North Ossetia-Alania to its east, north, and west.

Russia-Chechnya historic ties

Russia and Chechnya have a complicated history bordering on violence. The conflict between Russia and Chechnya has a long history, from the time of Catherine the Great to Stalin, Boris Yeltsin, and finally Putin.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has fought two brutal wars to curb the Chechen Republic’s announced independence.

One under Boris Yeltsin from 1994 to 1996 and one after another three years under Putin in 1999, which was ostensibly termed a ‘counter-terrorism operation.’

As a result, the bloody battle of Grenz restarted, after vast destruction Russia was unable to subjugate Chechnya despite its military strength. It had to withdraw officially.

The two Russo-Chechnian wars could be described as the most violent wars of the 21st century. Thereafter, in a baffling move, Chechnya’s pro-independence leader Ramzan Kadyrov switched sides during the second Russian onslaught on Chechnya ( 1999- 2000).

Ramzan Kadyrov ascended to power in 2007 and fought two bloody wars with Russia, however, later he helped the Russian army to bring the Chechnians back into Russian Federation.

Consequently, Chechnya became one of the regions of Russia. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia out of expediency accepted Chechnya as the independent Islamic Republic ruled by a strong man.

Since then Kadyrov has demonstrated his devotion and loyalty to Putin. Ramzan Kadyrov also expressed support to Russia for signing independence documents for Donetsk and Luhansk in addition to supporting Russian military operations.

In return, for all-out support to Russia, Chechen Republic has enjoyed significant subsidies as high as 87 percent of its budget. Furthermore, Kadyrov has also been the recipient of funds/contributions from the Kadyrov Fund.