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Chechen Leader Denies Sending Fighters To Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian fighters of the Vostok Battalion take up positions outside the local administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on May 29.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has again denied sending Chechen fighters to support pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine but said some could have gone "voluntarily."

In an interview to be aired on Russian television on May 31, Kadyrov said he had recognized some of the fighters in pictures from Ukraine.

"We did not send them; They are absolutely not our staff," he said.

Kadyrov put the number of Chechen fighters in eastern Ukraine at 14.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had expressed concerns about reports of foreign fighters, including Chechens, crossing into Ukraine from Russia.

The Moscow-backed Chechen leader did not rule out sending Chechen fighters to Ukraine if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders him to do so to protect the Russian-speaking minority there.
Based on reporting by Reuters, ITAR-TASS, and