Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov – a close ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – said he will send his three teenage sons to the front line to fight in the war in Ukraine after admonishing Moscow’s military leaders for a series of battlefield defeats.
Kadyrov, who commands a personal army fighting in Ukraine, earlier demanded that the commander of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine be stripped of his medals and sent to the front line to fight. He criticised Colonel-General Aleksandr Lapin, calling him “mediocre”.
The Chechen leader has increased his vitriol for military chiefs since the withdrawal of Russian forces from the key city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine.
On the Telegram messaging app, Kadyrov posted a video of his children – Akhmat, 16, Eli, 15, and Adam, 14 – firing weapons. He wrote that they soon will be “on the most difficult sections of the contact line”.
He said the teens had been trained for combat “almost from their youngest years” and insisted he “was not joking”.
“It’s time to prove themselves in a real fight, I can only welcome this desire,” said Kadyrov.
The video showed the boys in camouflage clothing and dark glasses, on tanks, guns strapped to their waists, shooting rocket launchers and machine guns. At times, the teenagers smile while shooting or make a thumbs-up gesture.
Kadyrov has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Russia and its invasion of Ukraine. He also suggested Russia should consider using a small tactical nuclear weapon.
The Kremlin on Monday dismissed his call to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Kadyrov’s remarks saying: “This is a very emotional moment. The heads of regions have the right to express their point of view. Even at difficult moments, emotions should still be excluded from any assessments.”
Peskov nevertheless hailed the “heroic contributions” of the Chechen leader to the military operation in Ukraine.
“Ramzan – you rock man!”
“Ramzan – you rock man!” Prigozhin said in a statement. “All these bastards should be sent barefoot to the front with automatic guns.”
When asked if his words should be considered criticism of the defence ministry, Prigozhin replied, “God forbid.”
“These statements are not criticism, but merely a manifestation of love and support,” said Prigozhin, whose mercenary army has dabbled in conflicts in Mali, the Central African Republic, Libya and Syria.