Who is Ramzan Kadyrov? Chechen leader warns Ukrainian soldiers 'you will be finished'
Despite the news that many Russian soldiers are being captured, surrendering, or abandoning their posts, some still remain deeply committed to conquering Ukraine. On March 13, Ukrainians were given a chilling warning by one such soldier, who has promised defenders "you will be finished” if they don't surrender. The soldier in question has been identified as Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya.
With the war in Ukraine now into its third week, Russia's threats have so far met a solid wall of opposition from brave Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. The 13 soldiers on Snake Island who told a Russian warship to "go f--k yourself" are perhaps the best example of this, but there are still plenty of others. On March 3, one viral clip showed a Russian soldier threatening civilians in Konotop to surrender, with two grenades in his hand. In late February, as the invasion began one woman in Henichesk told Russian soldiers to "put sunflower seeds in your pockets so they grow on Ukraine soil when you die."
But those were in the early days of the war when Russia was yet to take any major city. Three weeks in, they've taken over several and Ukrainian willpower has been stretched to the brink by constant shelling and fighting. Despite that, it seems the defenders are in no mood to give up and neither are the Russians, based on Putin's actions and the words of people like Kadyrov from the ground.
Who is Ramzan Kadyrov?
Kadyrov is widely seen as Putin's right-hand man in the region of Chechnya, where he rules with an iron fist. He is the son of Akhmad Kadyrov, who was also the President of Chechnya until his assassination in 2004. Kadyrov succeeded his father in 2007 at the age of 30, after spending the interim period as the region's Prime Minister. Not only is he an extremely close ally of the Russian President, but Kadyrov is also been reported for human rights abuse by multiple non-profit organizations, and has been blacklisted by most of the West for his actions.
His rule over the region for the past decade has seen political opponents disappear and homosexuals forcibly tortured or persecuted. In 2015, Kadyrov also praised a Chechen security officer charged with the killing of Boris Nemtsov, who was a harsh critic of Putin at the time. Now, it appears he's joined the war in Ukraine, but experts have warned that it cannot be confirmed if he has.
A TV channel controlled by the warlord published a video on March 13, reportedly from Hostomel, an airfield near Kyiv. "The other day we were about 20km from you Kyiv Nazis and now we are even closer," he can be heard saying in the video. Kadyrov adds that Ukrainians should surrender, or "you will be finished." He also said, "We will show you that Russian practice teaches warfare better than foreign theory and the recommendations of military advisers."
When the Russian invasion first began, images showed Kadyrov in the Chechen capital of Grozny surrounded by soldiers, as he claimed to be on the way to Ukraine. Now weeks later, it appears he's made his way to the frontlines, to fight alongside other Chechen paramilitary forces. He is only seen briefly in the video, talking to soldiers about progress in the area, with his father's flag in the background. Given the brutality of his regime, it could mean tough fighting in the days ahead of Ukrainians.