Akhmed Zakaev, a political leader of exiled Chechens forming an anti-Putin coalition, fears that there will be an influx of Russian terrorist groups into Ukraine . According to Zakaev, the terrorist groups are likely to come from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan.
"Our intelligence says they are trying to send new people who were not previously identified as Russian combatants, 'kadyrivtsy'", Zakaev told Kyiv Post, using the common word to describe fighters under the command of his main adversary, notorious Chechen mogul and Putin hardliner Ramzan Kadyrov.
"These are pure saboteurs, killers, sent to assassinate those on Putin's death list. Not only Chechens, but the people from other regions of Northern Caucasus, and Crimean Tatars,"
Zakaev summed up.
Akhmad Akhmedov, another active figure of the Northern Caucasian resistance, confirmed Zakaev’s data while speaking to Kyiv Post.
"We got the same information. We’re in the red zone," Akhmedov said. "We’re warned to check our vehicles for planted bombs, etc. "
Both men have experience on the battlefield with Russia. Zakaev was a part of the Chechen (or Ichkerian) government during the brief moment of Chechen independence from Russia in the 1990s.
Akhmadov is a former athlete who joined the Ukrainian army after the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion this February.
Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, adopted a declaration on Oct. 18 stating the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria to be a territory "temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation."
Rada MPs voted in favor of the resolution, which also condemns the genocide of the Chechen people. Ukraine became the second country that officially recognized Ichkeria, now a part of the Russian Federation, as an independent state.
There are up to a thousand Northern Caucasians from the regions of Chechnya, Dagestan, and other Russian-controlled provinces fighting on the Ukrainian side.
Earlier this year, Zakaev, the leader of the exiled government of Ichkeria, announced the launch of a military regiment under his command operating in Ukraine and armed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
In the conversation with Kyiv Post, Zakaev stressed that people from his newly-formed volunteer battalion took part in the liberation of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson earlier this fall.
At this stage, three major Chechen regiments operate in Ukraine. One of them is directly controlled by Zakaev.
"There are way more people willing to fight but fear losing their European citizenship," says one of the volunteer fighters from Chechnya. "Most of us are here incognito, and we learn about the others from the press after they become KIAs (killed in action)."
The prolonged standoff between the Chechen fighters for independence in the 1990s and Russian forces ended two decades ago, with most of the anti-Kremlin opposition either killed or exiled.
For the first time since 2015, the year of the last serious military operation of Chechen opposition to Kadyrov, the battle between Russian-controlled and pro-independence Chechen forces became a reality, though this time on Ukrainian soil.
Russian-controlled Chechnya and its leader Ramzan Kadyrov have regularly sent its troops to fight in Ukraine.
Earlier this week, Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the occupied Ukrainian town of Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Region, said that Kadyrov had sent his nephew to become the de-facto governor of those parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Regions which are still controlled by Russian forces.
Popular local site Ukrayinska Pravda reported that the primary role of Kadyrov’s agent in Ukraine would be to manage the finances of such Russian-controlled enclaves.
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