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Chechen leader Kadyrov said he traveled to Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov attends an inauguration ceremony in Grozny
FILE PHOTO: Re-elected head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov attends an inauguration ceremony in Grozny, Russia October 5, 2021. REUTERS/Chingis Kondarov

March 13, 2022

(Reuters) – Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Sunday he had traveled to Ukraine to meet with Chechen troops attacking Kyiv.

Reuters could not independently verify whether he was in Ukraine or had traveled there during the conflict.

Chechen TV channel Grozny earlier Sunday published a video on its Telegram social media channel showing Kadyrov in a darkened room speaking to Chechen troops about a military operation they said was 7 km (4, 3 miles) from the Ukrainian capital.

The post did not reveal where or when the meeting took place.

Kadyrov later poked fun at another post that cast doubt on whether he had traveled to the Kyiv region.

“Why ‘if’? Haven’t you seen the video?” Kadyrov wrote on his official Telegram account.

Kadyrov, who has often referred to himself as Putin’s “foot soldier,” has released videos of heavily armed Chechen troops in the Kyiv region as part of the Russian invasion force.

He has been repeatedly accused of violating the law by the United States and the European Union, which he denies.

Moscow fought two wars with separatists in Chechnya, a primarily Muslim region of southern Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But since then it has pumped huge sums of money into the region to rebuild it, giving Kadyrov a high degree of autonomy.

The Kremlin describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western allies call this an unfounded pretext for a war by choice.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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Bobby Allyn

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