Never one to pass up an opportunity to comply demonstratively with orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov affirmed on February 28 his readiness to dispatch a consignment of humanitarian aid
to Crimea. The cost of that relief will be borne by the Akhmat-haji Kadyrov charitable fund named for Kadyrov's late father.
Kadyrov had earlier condemned the revolution
that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych as "a coup d'etat" and "a deliberate attempt to exert pressure on Russia through Ukraine." At the same time, Kadyrov placed the blame for the current situation on Yanukovych who, in Kadyrov's opinion, "failed to assume in time total responsibility for the fate of the people."
Kadyrov further accused
the political forces behind the crisis of "trying to play the Tatar card" in Crimea and "draw into these dangerous games the Tatar people, who are friendly toward us." He appealed to the Crimean Tatars, most of whom support the new regime in Kyiv, "to demonstrate good sense and not let themselves be used in a confrontation with other peoples, not let themselves be drawn into anti-Russian scenarios."
Kadyrov expressed concern that "nationalists of all descriptions" are systematically stripping ethnic Chechen citizens of Ukraine of their homes and businesses. He warned that "this is impermissible.... We shall not allow Chechens to be offended, wherever they happen to live."
Kadyrov offered assistance to the Russian, Cossack, and Chechen population of Crimea. "We are called upon to defend our peoples. And if necessary, we are ready to become observers, peacekeepers, soldiers, and defend the people," Kadyrov said.
There is a precedent for the deployment of Chechen forces outside the Russian Federation: in August 2008, the infamous Vostok Interior Ministry battalion commanded by Sulim Yamadayev (who in the early 2000s was Akhmat-haji Kadyrov's right-hand man) was in the forefront of the Russian incursion into Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia