By Paul Goble
There is no question that the Chechen troops Ramzan Kadyrov has dispatched to Ukraine to help Putin’s war there are capable of the worst forms of brutality, but Russian experts point out that these men in uniform lack the training and experience to be effective as combatants in a real war.
Kadyrov has been critical of the fighting capabilities of the Russian army and suggested his troops can provide a valuable leaven to them to improve the situation, but in fact, these Chechen Russian Guardsmen don’t have what it takes to do that and may be causing more problems than they are worth.
Moscow analyst Pavel Felgengauer points out that the Chechen battalions are counted as members of the Russian Guards but are not trained as are other units in its formations. They are “nothing other than Kadyrov’s personal army; and thus by preparation and armament are quite difference from the Russian Guards (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/374400/).
Kadyrov’s men in recent years have fulfilled the duty of guards. They do not have any serious experience with real battles. “Twenty years ago, the older generation did. But the new generation practically does not. They haven’t fought [a real war] in Chechnya for a long time.” And consequently, they shouldn’t e viewed as “a serious military force.”
Felgengauer points to three other problems: they are much older than the average Russian soldiers making integration of the units harder; they are a group that Kadyrov himself wants to avoid losing and thus seeks to prevent Russian commanders from using where major losses are likely; and while they could serve in support units, many are unwilling to do so.
A second Moscow military analyst, Aleksandr Khramchikhin, is equally skeptical. He argues that the Chechen force is completely unprepared to take part in the Russian campaign in Ukraine. The geography and social situation in Ukraine are completely different from these things in Chechnya.
In Chechnya, Kadyrov’s army may be effective because it knows the local situation well, but in Ukraine, it will be lost and likely cause more trouble than it is worth.