Putin humiliated for ‘overestimating’ hardman Chechens after failed assassination bid

Ukraine: Chechen soldiers appear to fire on Mariupol building

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Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Russia’s Chechnya region and a staunch ally of President Putin, claims to have sent 1,000 elite fighters to fight in Ukraine. The Chechen leader has been accused of rights abuses including torture and proudly posts videos of his men fighting in Ukraine on Telegram. Despite their fearsome reputation, their record in combat with the Ukrainian forces has been less impressive.

Mark Voyger, a senior fellow with the Transatlantic Defense and Security Program at the Center for European Analysis, told Express.co.uk: “Putin seems to have overestimated their abilities.

“They are known for recording videos and posting them online, where they shout a lot and they look really menacing with their beards and their AKs. They look like this medieval brutal force.

“But their record in actual warfare against the Ukrainians has been unimpressive.

“They were tasked with attacking Kyiv and then eliminating the Ukrainian leadership together with the Wagner mercenaries but the Ukrainians destroyed the Chechens advancing on Kyiv and killed one of their high-ranking commanders.”

In March, Putin reportedly sent the elite Chechen hit squad to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who remained in the capital during the first wave of the attack.

National Security and Defence Council chief Oleksiy Danilov said officials were tipped off that the special forces troops had been deployed by Mr Kadyrov.

He said: “We are already aware of the special operation that was to be carried out by Kadyrov forces unit.

“We received the information from representatives of Russia’s Federal Security Service who do not want to take part in this bloody war.

“The Kadyrov forces unit, which came to kill our President, was eliminated.”

After the string of embarrassments, Putin returned the Chechen forces to a different, yet “sinister” role in the “special operation”.

Mr Voyger told Express.co.uk: “What they’ve been doing after that is really – apart from the despicable atrocities like rapes and torturing and killing of civilians – it seems that they have being tasked with operating as the so-called ‘penal battalions’.

“It was a Soviet invention in the Second World War for when you have unwilling troops.”

Penal battalions are put in place to control disillusioned troops who are reluctant to advance when they are given orders by their officers – or even at risk of desertion.

Mr Voyger added: “Since the Russian troops are suffering from low combat morale, especially the new recruits from among the Donbas regions, the Chechens are used as a force to ‘whip’ those new or unwilling soldiers into frontal assaults against Ukrainian forces.”

During World War Two, the penal battalions were often made up from non-Russian speaking fighters from the far east, such as Mongolians, who would shoot at the Russian soldiers in the front if they tried to defect.

The Chechen soldiers appear to have reportedly adopted this “sinister” role in the war against Ukraine.

Mr Kadyrov’s men have few friends in the Russian army, where resentment left over from bloody wars in Chechnya in the 1990s still runs high.

Mr Voyger continued: “I’ve read reports where they act as penal battalions holding the line when Russian troops run from the frontline.

“Or I’ve also read about executions of Russian defectors or mutineers – troops that have been hit by mutiny have been dealt with extremely harshly by the Chechens.

“And so they have a special, very sinister role within the Russian military and that’s one of the key tasks they were ‘bred’ for.

“Putin designed the system to have a local governor of sorts in Chechnya who would breed such a force of terror for [Putin’s] disposal.”

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