Staunton, November 23 – In a move certain to infuriate many Russians by raising questions about just who the Chechen leader thinks he is, Ramzan Kadyrov has told Interfax that he wants to hire private American military instructors to train his own special forces and those of other CIS countries in counter-terrorism techniques (interfax.ru/russia/538178).
The Chechen head said that Americans would form only a small part of the contingent of domestic and international trainers he is organizing for his forces, but Kadyrov stressed that the US personnel have “great experience in participating in overt and covert special operations in Latin America, Asia and Africa.”
He continued by saying that he plans to create by 2018 an international training center for special operations forces. It will have its own parachute area as well as training sites on how to conduct battles with terrorists “in urban conditions.” “This is a gigantic city, for which there are no analogues,” Kadyrov said.
For the leader of any republic within the Russian Federation to make such a declaration raises three questions for which there are as yet no clear answers: First, is Kadyrov really acting on his own or is this part and parcel of a Vladimir Putin-approved move to see how Washington will react?
Second, if Kadyrov is acting on his own, what will be the reaction not just of ordinary Russians but most importantly of the security services and the Russian military who are almost certain to view this as poaching on their territory of responsibilities and even a threat to their control in the region.
And third, and perhaps most significant, is Kadyrov making this statement to highlight not only to the Russian siloviki but also to Putin that he really is irreplaceable by making a proposal that no one else would dream of making in order to show that he cannot be controlled and therefore must be tolerated?
Whatever the answers to these questions turn out to be and regardless of what actions Moscow takes in response to this challenge, Kadyrov likely has further destabilized the situation in the North Caucasus and moved his republic even further from Moscow than it has ever been before.