Staunton, July 28 – Chechnya head Ramzan Kadyrov earlier this month promised a special kind of “hell” for any Chechen who refused to serve in battalions he is organizing to fight for Moscow in Ukraine, a promise that the family members of those who have been dragooned into service say Kadyrov is keeping.
Some family members say that their sons or brothers have been forced to sign up or have been sent to fight even when they refused, an indication that even promises that their past records as anti-Russian fighters would be wiped clean if they went to Ukraine (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/379589/).
These reports give the lie to claims by Kadyrov and others that Chechens are enthusiastic about fighting for Moscow and that his program which calls for the organization of four new battalions for service in Ukraine is going without any significant problems. In reality, there is great resistance to such service.
That is quite remarkable especially given that in Chechnya as elsewhere in the North Caucasus, many in the past have bribed their way into the Russian military so that they can get jobs in the police, often the only employment available in their depressed regions (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/10/chechens-bribing-their-way-into-russian.html).
To be sure, such bribes were typically offered at times when the Russian army wasn’t engaged in military operations and many now may simply not want to put themselves at risk. But for the North Caucasus to go from being a reliable source of cannon fodder for the Russian military to a place where the authorities have to use compulsion so quickly is striking.
And that in turn suggests that more is going on here than simply a desire to avoid the risks of combat. It strongly implies that people in that region are increasingly opposed to what Moscow is doing not only in Ukraine but in their homelands as well.