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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s cousin has been deployed to Mariupol as part of Russia’s efforts to end months of resistance at Azovstal steel mills, the British Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
“In an attempt to overcome the Ukrainian resistance, Russia has made extensive use of auxiliary personnel. This includes a deployment of Chechen forces, probably composed of several thousand fighters concentrated mainly in the Mariupol and Luhansk sectors, “the ministry said in a Twitter post.
THE WAR OF RUSSIA IS NOT ON UKRAINE BUT ON NATO, SAYS THE CHECHNYA LEADER
British defense officials believe these forces were mainly made up of units of the National Guard and individual volunteers supervised by the Chechen leader.
“Kadyrov probably maintains close personal control of the deployment, while his cousin Adam Delimkhanov probably acted as commander on the Chechen field in Mariupol,” the defense ministry added.
The ministry said the deployment of various types of combat forces in the region demonstrates Moscow’s “significant resource problems” and suggested it led to a “disunited” command.
Senior US defense officials have repeatedly said there are indications that morale and unity cohesion remain an issue for Russia.
Ukrainian defense officials said Wednesday that they also obtained information that some soldiers from Russian rifle regiments had “openly refused to take part in the war”.
AZOVSTAL FIGHTERS TO FACE THE RUSSIAN INTERROGATION, COURT
Russia has said its goal is to take “full control” of eastern and southern Ukraine, although Ukrainian defense officials have warned they believe Moscow will make another attempt to take control of the capital, Kiev.
The last stronghold of resistance in Mariupol fell this week after the surrender of Ukrainian fighters locked up in Azovstal steel mills after weeks of Russian bombing.
Russia said nearly 960 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered and the leader of the Donetsk separatist group Denis Pushilin said on Wednesday that their fate would be determined by a Russian court.
Despite Moscow’s victory this week, Kadyrov admitted that Russian forces found it “difficult” to continue pushing back Ukrainian forces with the support of NATO allies.
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“We are not fighting Ukraine today … we are fighting NATO,” he said in a televised speech. “NATO and the West, their mercenaries are there. And this is what our state is struggling for.
“But it is a very positive experience and we will prove once again that Russia cannot be defeated,” he added.