Sunday, August 28, 2016

Caucasus Report

Chechens Now Fighting On Both Sides In Ukraine

Isa Munaev (3rd from left) poses for a photo in Ukraine with members of his battalion.
Isa Munaev (3rd from left) poses for a photo in Ukraine with members of his battalion.

Eighteen years after the signing of the Khasavyurt Accord that ended the 1994-96 Chechen war, a veteran Chechen field commander has issued a timely reminder that there are still three sides to the ongoing struggle for the hearts and minds of the Chechen people.

In a statement dated August 28, Isa Munayev appeals to the United States and "the countries of the democratic world" to provide "comprehensive military assistance" to the Ukrainian people, whom Munayev describes as victims of Russian imperial aggression, just as the Chechens were 20 years ago.

Munayev identified himself in that statement as commander of the Dzhokhar Dudayev international volunteer peacekeeping battalion and a brigadier general of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria (ChRI) of which Dudayev was the first president. He spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Marsho a week ago, shortly before he travelled to Ukraine to show "international support for the Ukrainian people." The strength of his battalion, and who is bankrolling it, is not known.

Now in his late 40s, Munayev played a key role in the defense of Grozny at the start of the 1999-2000 war, and continued fighting after the resistance forces retreated south to the mountains, acquiring a reputation for his courage and tactical skills. In late 2007, however, he distanced himself from ChRI President Doku Umarov following the latter's abandonment of the cause of Chechen independence and proclamation of a Caucasus Emirate. Munayev left Chechnya soon afterward, but continued to serve until December 2008 as ChRI prosecutor-general.

Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount of the presence on the side of the pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine of hundreds of fighters sent by Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov. Those fighters are apparently primarily volunteers from among the various police and security forces subordinate to Kadyrov, who has consistently denied that there are any "Chechen battalions" in Ukraine, even after the "Financial Times" quoted a fighter named Zelimkhan who said he and his comrades in arms had been sent to Ukraine in mid-May on Kadyrov's orders.

Kadyrov has admitted, however, that a few dozen Chechen volunteers from among the 2 million (according to his estimate) Chechens living outside Russia have travelled to Ukraine on their own initiative to fight, and that a handful of them have been killed.

Republic of Ingushetia head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov similarly said in early June that 25 residents of his republic had travelled to Ukraine to fight, of whom four had been killed. In a subsequent interview, Yevkurov, a former Russian military-intelligence officer, affirmed his readiness to head to Ukraine himself "to defend those who are being humiliated and killed."

In contrast, both the Defense Ministry and the presidential and government press service of the largely unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia in May denied media reports that the breakaway Georgian region had sent volunteers to fight in Ukraine.

How many "kadyrovtsy" either volunteered or were sent to Ukraine is unclear, but separate, unconfirmed casualty reports suggest the figure may have been as high as 1,000. Between 35-45 corpses were reportedly sent back to Chechnya  in late May, and between 120-150 in August. In addition, Ukrainian military sources claimed to have killed some 200 Chechens near Slovyansk in late June.

Other reports, also unconfirmed, suggest that Kadyrov's men did not distinguish themselves in battle. There have been several such reports over the past few weeks that Chechen units fighting under the command of Russian officers in eastern Ukraine have been disbanded and sent home for cowardice and/or desertion, surrendered to Ukrainian government forces, or asked for safe passage to retreat to the Russian border.

Kadyrov immediately rejected as untrue reports that any Chechens had surrendered: he declared that "once a Chechen takes up arms, he doesn't surrender."

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
August 30, 2014 18:30
Chechens are like anybody else, beside Caucasian intelligence, strength and some other qualities.
To be brave it is not enough be forced sign pledge be killed along with his family, if not follow explicitly orders of Russian imperial killers, even if one is Moslem.
Germans were wrong during WW2, when they called non-Russians "communist fanatics" and Asians "Moslem fanatics".
They stopped German armies and fought to the end because
they thought of themselves as independent free nations, liberated from Russian occupiers and defending their future freedom, according
1936 Preamble and Constitution, from new invaders.
That explains why Chechens sent to invade Ukraine are not willing conquer for "Stervyatnik", specially under command of
Russian officers - not bright, but cunningly inhuman.
On another hand, if they fight for freedom and future, they are as good as anybody else, considering ethnic differences.
Of coarse, in such countries like former USSR, genuine help to freedom and dignity of nations is welcomed... by need to know...

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
August 31, 2014 05:46
Winter will have started two months from now, Ukrainians will be sitting in their cold appts at temperatures of 25 below zero, which will certainly create further discontent in the society. The latter will lead to further protest and the overthrowal of the current junta in Kiew. Poroschenko is quite aware of this and that is why he is getting so nervous runnging to Brussel to ask for help. As Hillary woudl put it: "His days are numbered and he knows it" :-))
In Response

by: Evhenio from: Canada
August 31, 2014 11:22
Ukraine is not Russia and Ukrainians are not Russians and so Ukraine will be free despite the invasion of Ukraine by the military forces of the Russian Federation. Ukraine should begin to reacquire nuclear weapons to ensure its territorial integrity and political sovereignty is respected in future, join NATO (or not) and install safe nuclear energy plants to secure its needs for electric power for domestic and industrial purposes (like most of the rest of Europe). Russian pipelines crossing Ukrainian territory should be cut off so that when Eugenio is chomping on his chocolate torte in Vienna, sitting in his cafe at -15 C, he will take it with cold milk, good riddance even as he weans himself off the Russian bear's smelly gas teets.
In Response

by: peter from: ottawa
August 31, 2014 14:24
Eugenio the article is about mercenary Chechens who have no soul but who like to kill each other and seek blood revenge on one another as for your pathetic comments , yes it will be cold in the UKR but the UKR has powerful and wealthy friends who just forked over 1.39 billion for their warmth this winter. Meanwhile every day body bags with lost Russian soldiers are making their way back to their outhouses in cesspool Ruxxia. Change your meds your getting the articles confused. Cheers.
In Response

by: Mountain Division from: Washington, DC
August 31, 2014 15:15
If anyone should know suffering at the hands of the brutal tyrannical Putin regime it has to be the Chechnyan and Dagestanis, they suffered mightily from Putin who against all the chatter he says today about Ukrainians indiscriminately bombing and killing civilians, literally carpet bombed and leveled parts of Chechnya, and of course Grozny. Reports of over 100 thousand killed. Mr. Putin is a war criminal and should be brought to heal by the civilised west today! Thanks to those brave Chechens who support the sovereign Ukrainian military.
In Response

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
August 31, 2014 15:20
Russian agent troll...
In Response

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
August 31, 2014 15:21
How much are you paid eugenio??? Or maybe Yevgeniy...
In Response

by: Chris from: Canada
August 31, 2014 17:00
They have enough gas in reserves for the winter, also, shipments are coming and a gas line from EU has been reversed.
In Response

by: krop from: planet earty
August 31, 2014 18:45
And then they can install a puppet held up by Putin! Wow, that'll really help them out - a country with the GDP of Italy and as much freedom as Iran. If that's the best that can happen, no wonder they want to join the EU where at least they stand a chance.
In Response

by: severino from: london
August 31, 2014 23:52
Well i think the ukrainians will have a warm winter. They will simply take the gas from the russian pipelines and rightly so. What we see here is the beginning of the end of putins russia. First his proxy army fell apart with no support in the local population now he has to send in his regular army. And now he is the one panicking. Therussian army is greatly overestimated. Therussian general staff itself predicted in may that even with 80 tsd troops they would not be able to hold even luhansk and donezk. And the russian people besides beeing brainwashed as dummies by there cleptocratic kremlin mafia leadership is agai st any war with ukraine. Putin nows that - if he still is able to notice anything clearly. Judging by his latest appearances he seems to be vastly either or drugs or other medical narcotics. He has obviously something of a severe health issue going on, one should not be suprised if the great leader will not have many years left. What he needs desperately is now a quick facesaving solution for his imperialistic adventude before it backfires badly. If ukraine does not fall for the trick and keeps fighting and mulling the russians in to a guerilla war within the ukraine the russians will brake down completely within one year. And Putin nows that. Already they had to collect every battle ready man from the whole of russia to send them for the donbass. In the longer term history will see all of this as the beginning of the end of the russia we know now. It will be divided in different states one of which will be a moscovite state where everybody then will say-Putin? This Bastard! I was then always against him. As everybkdy in germany was against Hitler when he was dead. History teaches the same lessons all along. So you dobt have to be afraid for ukraine in the long run. But for russia-well, see-you have. And again, rightly so...
In Response

by: Domingo Barón from: Welington, New Zealand
September 01, 2014 01:03
Enjoy your fantasies, Eugenio, but the government in Kiev is far more democratically based than that of your imperialist hero Putin!
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
September 01, 2014 08:14
To all the EIGHT (!!!) losers who responded to my concise posting. Well, guys, I can understand your frustration: you, Beavuses, thought that you were about to create another US colony in the center of Europe - some sort of a giant Kosovo - and here Putin comes and takes it away from you piece after peace. So, the only thing you can do is sit around, post your insigntful comments and watch Ukraine desintegrate further and further :-)).
In Response

by: Jerry from: Poland
September 01, 2014 10:38
Eugenio sorry but you are wrong. Quite the opposite - the psychopatic Putin`s days are numbered and poor Russian people will suffer shortages this winter. I feel sorry for your ignorance to distinguish right from wrong. Stop drinking too much vodka and wake up from the Imperial Russia dream my friend !
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
September 02, 2014 06:15
By the way, you NINE smart guys, you might be interested in today's report of the German Der Spiegel magazine, accoring to which "NATO already sees Ukraine as the losing side in the ongoing military conflict" ("Analyse der militärischen Lage: Nato sieht Ukraine bereits als Verlierer des Konflikts").
In Response

by: Gustav from: vienna
September 03, 2014 13:20
If russia is so great, why dont you go back??

Big mouth since you are sitting comfortably in western europe, the exact place russian media calls "the big bad west". Go join your brothers in russia, we dont need you here:)
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
September 04, 2014 06:49
While Gustav was posting his insightful comments, the self-defense forces of Donbass have liberated the Lugansk airport from the Ukrainian death squads. Keep posting, Gustav :-)!!

by: NorthPole from: North Carolina
August 31, 2014 20:37
The Caucasus Emirate news outlet (Kavkaz Center) is really not a credible source to site. It is akin to citing Al Qaeda news as to the state of american forces in Afghanistan.

by: johnjo from: Dublin
September 03, 2014 04:00
To the tune of "Both Sides Now"!

I look at Chechens from both sides now
They fight on both sides of the fence
While Putin uses every trick he can
His war from the start made no sense

But he went & started it illegally anyway
Just not thinking of the consequence
And just as he did over in Syria
The suffering he's causing, is immense

I look at Putin from both sides now
I see him for what he truly is
A coward, a bully, and a warmonger
That's what he is on both sides, 'tis.

PS. 'tis in Ireland means (it is).

by: Justin from: Canada
September 07, 2014 22:24
What a strange world it is. The EU has now become the Soviet Union replete with compliant Eastern European satellites each ever more eager to outdo the other in paying homage to the American empire. And then there is silly Poland, eternal trouble-maker that once disappeared from the map of Europe but now a happily loyal servant to a new master. It is interesting that Russia and China are the only countries left with any backbone. The spectacle of Ukraine is surreal but then again, who can resist Victoria Nuland's cookies? Perhaps, it is time for Puppet Poroshenko to change to country's name to Nulandstan.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.