A car plant in Chechnya will start manufacturing zippy assault vehicles dubbed “Jihadi mobiles” for Chechen fighters in Ukraine.
The vehicles are being produced for soldiers fighting under Ramzan Kadyrov, the warlord head of the Chechen republic, who has increasingly framed his participation in the conflict in Ukraine as a holy war, or Jihad.
The armoured cars will be produced by the same factory in Chechnya that builds the Chaborz M-6, a light and fast four-wheeled military vehicle which is armed with a mounted machine gun.
A source told Russia’s TASS news agency that the “Jihadi mobile” would be tested at a Russian special forces training camp in Chechnya that has been used to condition thousands of soldiers before they are deployed to Ukraine.
In an interview with Russian media, military analyst Viktor Litovkin said that the “Jihadi mobile” was modelled on converted off-road cars used extensively in Syria and was likely to be fast and nimble.
“It is designed to carry out reconnaissance operations behind enemy lines and assault operations along the front, to quickly conduct an operation and hide,” he said.
Since 2015, Russian forces have helped Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad fight Islamic extremists. Some of the fighters that Russia has deployed to Syria have been Chechens.
Chechen fighters derided by Ukrainians
Mr Kadyrov has been one of Vladimir Putin’s strongest supporters of his war in Ukraine, sending his forces into action in the initial invasion with the first wave of Russian paratroopers.
Mr Kadyrov regularly mocks the West and has even said that Russia should blow up the world with its nuclear arsenal rather than lose its war in Ukraine.
Despite their fearsome reputation, Ukrainians have derided Chechen fighters and said that they are more interested in posturing around battlefields and uploading videos onto Tik Tok rather than fighting.
Relations between Mr Kadyrov and the Russian ministry of defence have also soured since the start of the war.
Mr Kadyrov has become one of the Russian military’s biggest critics, accusing its generals of incompetence. The Russian army has complained that Chechen fighters only take orders from Mr Kadyrov and have their own agenda. This makes coordinating attacks difficult and slow.
This week Mr Kadyrov also criticised an order from the Russian ministry of defence which banned soldiers from wearing beards, a common feature among Chechen fighters. He called it a clear “provocation” and said that Chechen fighters had a duty to wear a beard.
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