Vladimir Putin ally announced that the time had come for his boys, aged 14, 15 and 16, ‘to prove themselves in battle’
Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen strongman and key Putin ally, has said he is sending his three teenage sons to fight in Ukraine, amid mounting criticism of the Kremlin’s handling of the war.
Mr Kadyrov, who fought against Russian forces during separatist wars in the 1990s, announced yesterday that the time had come for his sons, aged 14, 15 and 16, “to prove themselves in battle”.
In a video for his Telegram followers, the boys fired machine guns, grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and the heavy weapons of armoured vehicles, grinning at the explosions.
“Akhmat, Eli and Adam are willing to put their skills to use during the Russian special military operation – I’m not joking,” Mr Kadyrov said in a message. “Soon they will leave for the front line and will stay at the most dire points.”
Mr Kadyrov’s announcement seemed to be aimed at those who have accused him of using his region’s security forces for self-promotion.
Throughout the war, Chechen troops have been caught staging videos in areas far from the actual front lines, winning them the nickname of the TikTok soldiers.
Mr Kadyrov, who has been accused of horrific human rights abuses in his native Chechnya, once claimed to be inspecting troops during the siege of Mariupol, in a photo that was actually taken in a Russian border town.
Mr Kadyrov criticised Russia’s military leadership last week over the success of Ukraine’s counter-offensive, as frustration spread among Russia’s propagandists, who never normally dare to speak out
Some of Russia’s best-known TV pundits, who until recently predicted a swift takeover of all of Ukraine, have turned on Russian military tactics, warning viewers of a protracted war against the West ahead.
On Friday, Vladimir Putin illegally annexed parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, but the Russian army has been embarrassingly retreating, having lost the strategic town of Lyman.
Maxim Yusin, a hawkish commentator, who days ago warned of imminent nuclear apocalypse, criticised the hasty annexation on Sunday.
“I can’t remember a precedent in history where you would absorb territories that you don’t control,” he said on NTV’s political talk show, casting doubts on the Kremlin’s official narrative that Moscow will soon be in complete control of the annexed regions.
“How are we supposed to liberate Zaporizhzhia – population 700,000 – when, if we’re being completely honest, we can’t say if the mobilisation is even going to help to turn the tide of the war? Things are not going so great right now,” he said.
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