Chechen leader says he is ready to send another 3,000 fighters to Ukraine

(Reuters) – Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Monday that another 3,000 of his fighters were ready to go to fight in Ukraine as part of new units of the Russian defence ministry and the Russian National Guard forces.

For Kadyrov, who has often described himself as President Vladimir Putin’s “foot soldier” and who has at times been a vocal critic of Russia’s performance in the conflict, the war in Ukraine is a bulwark against Western aggression.

“They (the fighters) have the best equipment and modern weapons,” Kadyrov said on the Telegram messaging app. “In addition, the guys are highly combative and very motivated to achieve results.”

In May, Kadyrov said that Chechnya, which is a federal republic of Russia, had sent more than 26,000 fighters to Ukraine from the start of the war, including 12,000 volunteers and that at the time 7,000 of them were actively fighting.

Kadyrov’s claims could not be independently verified and estimates of the Chechen fighters deployed to Ukraine vary. There have been also been several Chechen armed formations fighting on the side of Ukraine in the war that began with Russia’s full-scale aggression in Ukraine 21 months ago.

Earlier in November, Kadyrov said that a large group of Russia’s former Wagner mercenaries, who had played a prominent role in some of the fiercest fighting in Ukraine before their group fell into disarray after a brief mutiny against the Russian defence establishment, had also started training with special forces from Chechnya.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Sandra Maler)