A Ukrainian long-range strike targeted a close ally of Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, severely injuring him, according to unconfirmed reports. The missile also killed or injured dozens of members of his entourage, news reports and information platforms reported on Wednesday, June 14.

Adam Sultanovich Delimkhanov, a member of the Duma (Russia’s parliament) and longtime Kadyrov associate, was leading a delegation visiting a penitentiary in Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine’s Donbas region, when he and his party were hit by a salvo of long-range artillery shells or precision-guided missiles, the high-profile Ukrainian military reporter Yuriy Butusov reported.

Russian war-associated Telegram channels said Delimkhanov and his entourage had been inspecting the site for possible use by Kremlin forces, and waiting for the arrival of a senior Russian general, before the barrage hit. The UNIAN news agency reported the Ukrainian weapons struck after Delimkhanov’s group had been standing around for more than two hours.

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According to some Ukrainian information platforms Delimkhanov died from his injuries. Anton Herashchenko, a widely published Ukrainian Interior Ministry intelligence official, said “as many as” 200 members of Delimkhanov’s cavalcade were killed or injured as well, and that 12 Russian air force helicopters were deployed to evacuate casualties. He later updated Delimkhanov’s state to severely injured. Kyiv Post was unable to determine Delimkhanov’s status conclusively.

Kremlin officials said reports of Delimkhanov’s death were false. Kadyrov on his personal Telegram channel declared Delimkhanov healthy and in good shape. Sergei Volodin, speaker of Russia’s Duma in televised remarks claimed he had just spoken with Delimkhanov. The Russian official military news agency Zvezda reported Delimkhanov was injured.

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A prominent Chechen insurgent information platform, likewise, said Delimkhanov survived the strike, but many members of his party were injured or killed. Oplot Ichkeria, a partisan group opposing the pro-Putin regime currently at the head of the Chechnya region, said in a statement: “We are seeing a lot of reports that Adam Delimkhanov was supposedly killed, but no confirmation of that… although information that a column of Kadyrov troops with 200 people, that seems like the truth.”

Many pro-Russia information platforms criticized Delimkhanov’s protection team and local security officers for sloppy work and underestimating the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) ability to locate a stationary military convoy sitting out in the open and then hit it with a long-range strike.

Military blogger German Kulikovskiy in his blog Starshe Eddy wrote sarcastically of the failure: “An amazing speech by the Russian Cicero was interrupted by a HIMARS missile strike. It’s already the second year of the war, and instead of assaulting with cannon fodder, we are putting our cannon fodder into neat formations (for the AFU to shoot at).”

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Infighting, accusations and counter-accusations in the Russian military command about the strike reached the public domain in hours. In a Telegram post, Russian Lt. Col. Roman Venevitin accused Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary Wagner group, of “leaking” targeting information about Delimkhanov’s plans and his vehicle column.

Prigozhin leaked the information about the convoy’s travel route and passengers to Kyiv, as a personal attack against Kadyrov, Venevitin claimed. Kadyrov and Prigozhin – both leaders of thousands of armed men who are not subordinate to the Russian army chain of command – are longtime competitors for the favor of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to some analysts, Putin has promoted the growth of Prigozhin and Kadyrov’s private armies as insurance against a possible coup led by the Russian army.

On Monday, following a Putin order that all “armed volunteer group” members should be contracted to the government by July 1, Kadyrov gave his formal agreement in a heavily publicized ceremony to allow members of his personal paramilitary group to sign individual contracts with the Kremlin. Prigozhin in weekend comments said he would not order his mercenaries to sign the contract. 

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Russian parliamentary deputy Adam Delimkhanov shakes hands with Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov in an undated publicity photo published by Kadyrov’s office.

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