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Rival Chechen fighters take struggle to battlefields of Ukraine

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Kneeling in a patch of yellow wildflowers, a Chechen soldier fastidiously attaches an explosive system to the underside of a small drone. Seconds later, it’s launched. It explodes subsequent to 2 outdated storefront mannequins arrange 200 meters (yards) away, one with a Russian-style navy hat on its head.

After this and different coaching exterior the Ukrainian capital, the Chechen troopers, in assorted camouflage footwear and protecting gear, can be heading to the entrance traces in Ukraine, vowing to proceed the struggle towards Russia that raged for years of their North Caucasus homeland.

Fighters from Chechnya, the war-scarred republic in southern Russia, are taking part on each side of the battle in Ukraine.

Professional-Kyiv volunteers are loyal to Dzhokhar Dudayev, the late Chechen chief who headed the republic’s drive for independence from Russia. They kind the “Dudayev Battalion” and are the sworn enemies of Chechen forces who again Russian President Vladimir Putin and joined Russia within the months-long siege of Ukraine’s key port of Mariupol and different flashpoints in japanese and southern Ukraine.

One group of recent Chechen arrivals, lots of whom dwell in Western Europe, was being skilled at a makeshift firing vary exterior Kyiv earlier than heading east. At a coaching session Saturday, the brand new recruits ‒ all Muslim males ‒ shouted “Allahu akbar!” (“God is nice!”), holding their rifles within the air earlier than being handed navy ID playing cards which might be issued to volunteers.

Ukrainian officers say the Chechen battalion at the moment numbers a number of hundred who struggle alongside the nation’s navy however will not be formally underneath the nationwide command.

Instructors train the brand new battalion members fight fundamentals, together with learn how to use a weapon, assume a firing place and learn how to work in groups. Trainers embrace veterans of wars in Chechnya that resulted in 2009, some becoming a member of up in Ukraine after the combating towards Russia-backed separatists began in Ukraine in 2014.

Tor, a volunteer who requested solely to be recognized by his battlefield nickname, stated he sees no distinction between the 2 conflicts.

“Folks have to grasp we don’t have a alternative,” he stated talking in English and together with his face coated. “In the event that they (Russian forces) win this struggle, they’ll proceed. They by no means cease. I don’t know. The Baltic international locations can be subsequent, or Georgia or Kazakhstan. Putin brazenly, completely, says he needs to rebuild the Soviet empire.”

Russia launched two wars to stop Chechnya, a largely Muslim province, from gaining independence after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The primary battle erupted in 1994.

The second Chechen struggle started in 1999 and culminated in a siege by Russian troops of Grozny, the Chechen capital, which was devastated by heavy Russian bombardment. After years of battling an insurgency, Russian officers declared the battle in Chechnya over in 2017.

Muslim Madiev, a veteran fighter of the Chechen conflicts, recognized himself as an adviser to the volunteer battalion in Ukraine. He joined the troopers Saturday in capturing observe, taking goal at a plastic bottle held up on a stick. Bullet casings flew from his automated rifle onto a subject already plagued by bullets, shotgun cartridges and cardboard goal sheets.

“We’re going to win this struggle. The entire world is already standing up for us,” he says, talking in Russian.

“We had been the one ones who fought for ourselves (in Chechnya). Nobody stood with us. However now the entire world is behind Ukraine. We should win, we should win,” he declared. ___ Observe AP’s protection of the struggle in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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