There are tensions between Russian conscripts and troops from the Chechen Republic who are fighting in Vladimir Putin‘s invasion, Ukraine’s army has said.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces said three soldiers were injured in Makiivka, Donetsk during a clash between those drafted from the Russian-occupied territory of the Donetsk oblast and those from the predominantly Muslim republic.
“Relations between conscripts and occupation forces from the Chechen Republic on the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk Oblast remain strained,” the Ukrainian armed forces said on Saturday, according to a translation.
Chechen troops fighting on the side of Moscow in Ukraine are known as “Kadyrovtsy” or “Kadyrovites” after their leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s pro-Kremlin strongman. Although a staunch supporter of Vladimir Putin, Kadyrov has emerged as a vocal critic of Russia’s war effort.
He sent military units to Ukraine at the start of Putin’s invasion although they have been branded “TikTok” troops by some commentators for their eagerness to post videos on social media.
Last month, Kadyrov criticized General Alexander Lapin, commander of Russia’s largest military district, following Russian military setbacks.
Human rights activists say many Chechen soldiers were recruited against their will, after their families were threatened with extortion or physical violence. Before the war, rights groups have accused Kadyrov’s forces of extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture of Kadyrov’s opponents.
The update by Ukrainian armed forces also described how “stabilization measures” had been carried out in freed settlements of Kherson region, following the withdrawal of Russian troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River, near the regional capital of the same name.
It said that Russia had fired four rockets, conducted 23 air strikes, and carried out 70 bombardments in a series of attacks that hit 25 settlements in regions including Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhya. Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
Meanwhile, people have taken to the streets in Kherson city to mark what the White House described as an “extraordinary victory.”
Ukrainian journalist Olga Tokariuk tweeted on Saturday that “thousands of people flock to the streets to celebrate” before saying “they were hiding their flags for eight months because they could have been executed by Russians for that, but they never gave up their spirit.”
Another Ukrainian journalist, Iryna Matviyishyn, shared a video of the celebrations, adding the message “freedom is worth all the effort.”
After meeting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted “we also feel grateful to the US and the American people for all the support.”
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