Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov offers Putin thousands more fighters amid heavy Russian losses in Ukraine
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said another 3,000 of his men were ready to join Russia's invasion of Ukraine amid reports of heavy losses for Vladimir Putin's troops in their push to capture an eastern city.
Mr Kadyrov, a self-proclaimed "foot soldier" of the Russian president, said his fighters were ready to form new units of the Russian defence ministry and the Russian National Guard forces.
His statement comes amid reports of Russian troops suffering “some of the highest” casualties of the conflict so far amid intense fighting in eastern Ukraine. The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday said Russia was losing an average of 931 men a day this month, largely in the fight for the town of Avdiivka.
Until now the heaviest casualties suffered in a month by Russia – according to Ukrainian data – was March this year, with an average of 776 losses per day during the push to capture Bakhmut.
"They (the Chechen fighters) have the best equipment and modern weapons," Mr Kadyrov claimed on Telegram. "In addition, the guys are highly combative and very motivated to achieve results," he added.
Mr Kadyrov had earlier sent 26,000 fighters to the battlefield since the beginning of Russia's war in Ukraine last year. According to reports, 12,000 were volunteers at that time and 7,000 of them were actively fighting.
These claims about Chechen deployments to Ukraine could not be independently verified, and Reuters reported that several Chechen armed formations have fought on the side of Kyiv against Russia since Mr Putin launched his invasion in February last year.
Mr Kadyrov also claimed last year to have sent his three teenage sons to fight in Ukraine, saying he wanted them to "show themselves in a real battle".
"Soon they will go to the front line and will be on the most difficult sections of the line of contact," he had said in a Telegram post in 2022.
Mr Kadyrov enjoys wide leeway from Mr Putin to run Chechnya ruthlessly as his personal fiefdom, but he angered pro-Kremlin hardliners in September by praising his 15-year-old son for beating up an ethnic Russian prisoner in Chechen custody.
Mr Kadyrov met the Russian president in September amid speculations over his health, with rumours swirling that he was either dead or in a coma. He later clarified that he was fine and was travelling to a hospital in Moscow to visit a "sick uncle".
Earlier this month Mr Kadyrov said that a large group of Russia's former Wagner mercenaries, who had played a prominent role in some of the fiercest fighting in Ukraine before their group fell into disarray after a brief mutiny against the Russian defence establishment, had also started training with special forces from Chechnya.
Mr Kadyrov, 47, has mused publicly about handing over power at some point and appears to be actively working to raise the profile of his three teenage sons, the eldest of whom was photographed with Mr Putin in the Kremlin in March.