There are about 400 men and they belong to a battalion of Chechen origin already deployed on the outskirts of Kyiv. His battalion belongs to the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division based in Grozny. They are known as “Kadyrov’s Chechens” and their mere mention instills fear. Their last known mission was in Syria in 2011. They are now tasked with taking Kyiv. These soldiers were first formed as members of the paramilitary units of the former president of the pro-Russian Chechen Republic Ajmat Kadyrov, whose mandate was inherited by his son Ramzan Kadyrov.

Chechen special forces o spetsnaz deployed in Ukraine and supposedly going to take Kiev report to General Alexander Baranov, head of the North Caucasus Military District based in Rostov-on-Don. Under his command are the Krasnodar-based 10th Specially Designated Separate Mountain Brigade, the Rostov Oblast 22nd Specially Designated Separate Guards Brigade, the Maykop-based 131st Motorized Rifle Brigade, and the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division with headquarters in Grozny, Chechnya. Precisely within this Division there are several battalions, at least one of special operations, easily distinguishable by its black uniform and another of about 400 men expressly formed by what the Russians call counterknit or paid soldiers, of Muslim religion and origin of Chechnya.

After the assassination of President Kadyrov in May 2004, two Spetsnaz battalions were formed, the Yug or South, whose commander was Alibek Delimjanov and had around 700 soldiers, and the Sever or North commanded by Muslim Ilyasov and which had around 500 troops. There are currently two other battalions, Vostok (East) and Západ (West).

The uniqueness of these soldiers is that they are mostly Sunni Muslim, somewhat similar to Turkish Muslims. These units are grouped into family clans, so it is quite common for a soldier to fight alongside his siblings, parents, cousins, or close relatives side by side. This prints a special character to these military units.

Its origin dates back to the Russia’s two Chechen wars in 1994 and 1999, when Russian Intelligence understood that to take Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, needed to imprint that character on their troops and the best way to do so was to absorb rival combatants into the Russian army. The problem was that often these rival clans were even at war with each other and had a tendency to act on their own initiative without waiting for orders.

After many years of training and several generations of combatants, the Russians managed to give this battalion its own entity, equip it with state-of-the-art weapons, pay them a salary and transport them to any conflict. With their long beards, knife to their waist and ferocious appearance, they instill enough fear in the enemy soldiers, for this reason their name is used as another tool within psychological warfare.

It is quite common to see them pray on their knees in the direction of Mecca before entering combat and the Thursday a Russian news agency broadcast one of these moments in a forest outside Chernobyl, where they were supposed to be. Now the Russian Ministry of Defense assures that they will be in charge of taking Kiev, perhaps one more tactic to spread fear among the Ukrainian soldiers.


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