Chechen rebels take up arms for Ukraine

Chechen rebels

The long-simmering conflict in the Russian Federation’s Chechen Republic appears to now be playing itself out in the war in Ukraine. As Vladimir Putin launched his invasion, the “official” (Moscow-installed) Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov declared: “We will support any decision of the Commander-in-Chief [Putin]. We won’t let you down. We will follow any order.” The next day, Kadyrov announced on Telegram that elements of the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya) from Chechnya are taking part in the war. Reports shortly broke that Magomed Tushayev, head of the 141 Motorized Regiment of the Chechen Rosgvardiya, was killed in fighting with Ukraine’s elite Alpha Group outside Kyiv. Tushayev was named as a key architect of the campaign of terror against the LGBTQ community in Chechnya.

Meanwhile, the Chechen rebels who have for years been waging a sporadic insurgency against Kadyrov’s regime have declared that they are mobilizing to support the Ukrainian government. Adam Osmayev, commander of the Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion, stated in a video message, in which he posed with armed fighters: “I want to tell Ukrainians that real Chechens, today, are defending Ukraine. We have fought, and will continue to fight for Ukraine until the very end.”

In another address on Feb. 28, Osmayev appealed to Chechens fighting in the Rosgvardiya to switch sides: “[T]he whole civilized world helps Ukraine. Therefore, I also urge them to go over to the side of Ukraine… It is generally unthinkable that Chechens, who were several times subjected to genocide from Russia, today fight on the side of Russia—this is unacceptable by any…concept.”

Akhmed Zakayev, former head of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria rebel government-in-exile, said in a statement that volunteers from across the Chechen diaspora are preparing to fight for Ukraine: “Members of the State Committee for the De-occupation of Ichkeria have been approached by Chechens from several European countries who want to go to fight for the freedom of the Ukrainian people.”

Two Chechen volunteer battalions have fought against Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas region since 2014—the Sheikh Mansur and Dzhokhar Dudayev battalions. Most of their fighters fled Russia after the fall of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, the de factoindependent government that controlled Chechnya between 1996 and 2000. (OC Media, Washington Blade)

Photo of the the Sheikh Mansur Battalion: OC Media