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Russian media report Putin’s frustration over conduct of Chechen troops in Ukraine

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Ukrainska Pravda – Saturday, May 28, 2022, 4:31 p.m.

Russian journalists report that, according to their sources, the Kremlin initially approved of the behavior of the Kadyrovites [units subordinate to Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic in the Russian Federation] in Ukraine. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now frustrated by their involvement in the battlefield setbacks.

Source: report from the Get Kit media project, founded by former journalists from Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet

Details: Putin first endorsed actions of units under Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov; he publicly praised their courage. Around the same time, Putin presented the highest state honor, the honorary title of Hero of Russia, to Adam Delimkhanov, a cousin of Kadyrov and a deputy in the Russian State Duma. [Russia’s national parliament – ed.].

However, journalists’ sources insist that in recent times Putin has begun to express his frustration with the activity of Kadyrov and his troops on social media; this happened against the informative background of the failures and defeats of the Russian occupying forces.

Putin’s displeasure is further fueled by representatives of the Russian military and the leadership of the Russian secret service. The Russian military is frustrated that Kadyrov’s troops, although they did not excel in combat, are spreading a media image of themselves as more skilful and courageous than the rest of the Russian military . Meanwhile, the Russian secret service is intimidated by Kadyrov’s arbitrary and aggressive behavior.

At the same time, Oleg Orlov, representative of the Memorial human rights center, now banned in Russia, explained that Kadyrov occupies a special place in the Russian “vertical of power”. He is allowed to say and do more than other Russian officials and politicians of his rank. In (unofficial) exchanges, he refrains from physically threatening Russian officials and avoids criticizing politicians of the rank of Prime Minister Mihail Mishustin and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

This is why Kadyrov allowed himself to openly criticize Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation in the negotiations with Ukraine, and his announcement that Russia was withdrawing its troops from the Kyiv and Chernihiv fronts. Moreover, the Chechen leader had public arguments with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, whom Kadyrov accused of “lack of patriotism”.

Quote from Orlov: “Like any other dictator, Putin needs someone to rely on. His main source of support is the various types of siloviki [a silovik in Russian vernacular is a member of the police, army, and any other state law enforcement organisation – ed.]. And like any other dictator, Putin needs a system of checks and balances within this web of forces. Kadyrov is just a pawn in Putin’s game. Putin needs extra strength to outweigh all other forces.

The extent of actual Chechen participation in the war and the effect it has on hostilities is disproportionate to the media attention it receives. He does it on purpose. It attracts a lot of public attention! In that sense, his PR campaign is a success – he won on that front.”

Details: The authors of the Get Kit report also consulted independent investigative journalists with sources within the Chechen authorities. They claim that in addition to Russian Guards and Russian Interior Ministry units directly under Kadyrov’s command, there are units from Chechnya that have been forcibly or voluntarily deployed on other fronts.

The Russian military command distinguishes between Kadyrovites and forcibly mobilized Chechens. For the most part, Kadyrovites film their PR material from the rear and from the fronts that have no direct contact with Ukrainian troops. Meanwhile, forcibly mobilized Chechens are deployed in hot spots, to cover the rear or to carry out mopping-up operations.

Overall, Kadyrov’s public actions as head of Chechnya are aimed at currying favor with Putin and elevating himself to the rank of federal politician, rather than his current status as head of a North Caucasus region.

Background:

  • According to Ukrainian intelligence, about 2,500 militants from the Chechen Republic took part in the military invasion of Ukraine.

  • Investigative journalists from Mediazona, an independent Russian media, said that, according to their sources, Kadyrovites are suffering heavy losses in the hostilities in Ukraine, but this is well hidden by the government and the “siloviki”, who are pressuring on the relatives of the deceased not to make public any information on the deaths.

  • Earlier, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Kremlin-controlled Chechnya, said in an “educational” interview with young Russians that Vladimir Putin did not need to announce mobilization: Russian citizens “should mobilize around the president themselves”.

  • Ukrainian journalists have pointed out more than once that images of “fights” shared by Kadyrovites often show them in Russian-occupied Ukrainian towns and villages against the backdrop of empty buildings.

  • After Vladimir Medinsky, assistant to the President of the Russian Federation and head of the Russian delegation in negotiations with Ukraine, announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from northern Ukraine, Kadyrov affirmed that he was ready to capture Kyiv and that Medinsky was wrong.

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