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UK intel: Around 9,000 Chechen troops deployed by Russia in Ukraine

Around 9,000 pro-Russian Chechen troops are deployed in Ukraine, initially suffering heavy losses but now conducting frontline and rear operations, per UK intelligence.
Soldiers of Russia’s Chechen paramilitary groups collectively known as Kadyrovites. Belgorod, Russia, 2023. Photo via Defense Express.
UK intel: Around 9,000 Chechen troops deployed by Russia in Ukraine

The British Defense Ministry reports that around 9,000 personnel from pro-Russian Chechen units, which have been active in Ukraine since 2014, have been reinforced since the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

After suffering heavy initial losses and being relegated to rear area security, earning the nickname ‘TikTok’ troops for their social media antics, Chechen units have returned to frontline service following the Wagner Group’s withdrawal in May 2023. While Chechen special forces likely endure the brunt of frontline combat, most Chechen forces continue rear area operations. Additionally, Chechnya contributes to Russia’s war efforts by training Russian personnel, the UK ministry notes.

Only 53% of Kadyrov’s troops in Ukraine are ethnic Chechens

The ministry wrote:

  • It is likely that around 9,000 personnel are currently serving in pro-Russian Chechen units in Ukraine.
  • Pro-Russian Chechen forces have been fighting in Ukraine since 2014. Additional Chechen formations were dispatched to Ukraine at the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022. However, suffering initial heavy losses, Chechen units became largely relegated to conducting rear area security operations and became derided as ‘TikTok’ troops for their nodal media antics. Since the withdrawal of Russia’s private military company Wagner from the frontlines from May 2023, Chechen units have been pressed back into frontline service.
  • It is likely that Chechen special forces units bear the brunt of frontline fighting, whilst the bulk of Chechen forces continue to conduct rear area security operations.
  • Besides providing personnel, Chechnya’s other key contribution to Russia’s war against Ukraine is in providing training for Russian personnel. The Russian Special Forces University in Gudermes, Chechnya, has provided training for around 42,000 Russian personnel since 2022, according to Chechnya’s leadership. However, it is likely personnel only receive up to 10 days training at the university, bringing the effectiveness of the training and institution into doubt.

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