Russian President Vladimir Putin may be facing another front, this time on his turf. A Chechen battalion is preparing a second offensive against Moscow.
Volunteer Chechen forces joined the fight to support Kyiv after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. This fueled animus that has been longstanding towards Putin and Russia.
“We know where Russian military bases and positions are,” Islam Belokiev (spokesman for Sheikh Mansur Battalion) said in a video message that Fox News Digital obtained this week via the Ukraine Frontline Media Platform.
He said, “We have divided up the Chechen Republic Of Icheriya into 16 sectors and three fronts,” while announcing a plan for a new fight for Chechen independence.
AFP journalist GENYA SAVILOV interviews members of the volunteer Sheikh Mansur Battalion during an interview in Zaporizhzhia on June 9, 2022. This was amid the Russian invasion Ukraine. (Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images).
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The history of resistance by Chechens to Russian rule goes back centuries. Calls for independence started more than 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
After a devastating war that decimated the republic in 1994-1996, Boris Yeltsin signed a peace treaty that granted broad autonomy.
After he renounced the treaty, a decade of war broke out and he launched a devastating military campaign in 1999 after his appointment as prime Minister by Yeltsin.
Grozny (Russia) was under siege by the Russian army on August 26, 1996. (Photo by Eric BOUVET/Gamma Rapho via Getty Images
Putin made a famous speech as a prelude for his rise to the presidency. He said: “We will chase terrorists everywhere.” We will flush them out of the outhouse if we catch them on the toilet.
An estimated 160,000 people were killed during both campaigns. However, exact numbers are still unknown.
Two volunteer Chechen battalions have taken up arms against Russia and Ukraine. They include veterans soldiers from the first and second Chechen Wars.
Both sides have voiced their disapproval of Ramzan Kadyrov (leader of the Chechen Republic), who was appointed in 2007 by Putin. He has violently supported his war efforts to defeat Kyiv.
In November 2004, Ramzan Kadyrov proudly shows off his shooting skills before his private army members at a firing range in Tsentoroi, Russia. (Photo by Kadyrov Press Office/Getty Images).
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According to a spokesperson for the Sheikh Mansur Battalion, the resistance group had split Chechnya into three sections and claimed that they have started working with the local population “to uncover enemy troop movements, type and armaments, number and weapons, and type of transport.”
Fox News was unable to independently verify these claims. However, Rebekah Koffler (a Russia expert and former intelligence officers in Russian doctrine strategy for the Defense Intelligence Agency, DIA) stated that it could be used as a distraction strategy to Putin’s war efforts in Ukraine.
She explained that they could use Putin’s forces to tie up Ukraine and assert their independence.
Although it is unclear whether the Chechen volunteer forces are collaborating with Kyiv to create a second front in Chechnya or not, Koffler said that this could still pose a threat to Putin’s forces.
She said it would make Putin and Russia believe they have to divert their eyes from Ukraine in order for them to launch a counter-offensive. That’s very clever.