Russia relied on Chechen forces in siege of Mariupol: UK intelligence

Russia relied on Chechen forces in its successful push to take control of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry.

In a Twitter thread on Wednesday, the ministry said in its intelligence report that Moscow deployed Chechen forces after a “staunch” Ukrainian resistance force delayed its attempt to seize the city and took out many Russian troops.

“In attempting to overcome Ukrainian resistance, Russia has made significant use of auxiliary personnel. This includes a deployment of Chechen forces, likely consisting of several thousand fighters primarily concentrated in the Mariupol and Luhansk sectors,” the ministry said in its Twitter thread. 

Russia said on Wednesday that some 700 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered after weeks of holding out in the Azovstal steelworks plant, the final battleground in the fight for the city.

The U.K. said Chechen forces involved in the Mariupol assault consisted of individual volunteers and National Guard units. Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov and his cousin, Adam Delimkhanov, took leadership roles among the new military units, it added.

“Kadyrov likely maintains close personal oversight of the deployment, while his cousin Adam Delimkhanov has likely acted as the Chechen field commander in Mariupol,” the ministry said. 

“The combat deployment of such disparate personnel demonstrates Russia’s significant resourcing problems in Ukraine and is likely contributing to a disunited command which continues to hamper Russia’s operations,” the ministry concluded. 

Kadyrov is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also shares his macho persona and record of ruthless tactics to hold power. His father, also a former Chechen president, aligned himself with Putin during the Chechen war.

During an event in Moscow this week, Kadyrov spoke about Russia’s challenges in Ukraine.

“And today we’re fighting not against Ukraine,” he said, “we’re fighting against NATO. NATO and the West, their mercenaries are there. And that’s why our state is finding it difficult.

“But it’s a really good experienc,e and we’ll prove once again that Russia cannot be defeated.” 

The U.K. Defense Ministry said on Sunday that Moscow has likely lost one-third of its ground combat forces in Ukraine, adding that Russian forces in the Donbas region have lost their ​​momentum and fallen behind schedule as well. 

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said last week that it had confirmed more than 7,000 civilian deaths during the war, which began in late February and has also displaced nearly 6.3 million Ukrainian citizens.

Tags Chechen Chechen chechen Mariupol Mariupol Ramzan Kadyrov Russia-Ukraine conflict Russia-Ukraine conflict The UK's Ministry of Defence Ukraine United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence Vladimir Putin

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