Written by 03:58 World

Inside the Chechen Units Helping to Fight Russia’s War

Nanna Heitmann spent time observing Russian troops training in Chechnya, then later traveled to Bakhmut, Ukraine. Neil MacFarquhar reported from New York.

A hulking military transport plane roared onto the tarmac at the main airfield in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic in southeastern Russia, and a group of 120 volunteer fighters heading for Ukraine clambered aboard.

Dressed in camouflage, the newly minted troops had just completed at least 10 days of training in Gudermes, near Grozny, at the Special Forces University, which accepts men from across Russia for general military instruction.

Some of the trainees lacked any combat experience. Others were veterans returning to Ukraine for their second or third tour — including former mercenaries from the Wagner militia, disbanded in 2023 after a short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin.

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Last modified: 17 June 2024
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