Chechnya recruited 3,000 former Wagner soldiers as special forces
Russian volunteer troops finished training in Chechnya, and were dispatched to the area of ​​responsibility of Akhmat special forces on the Ukrainian battlefield, on January 17. Photo: Reuters

The Russian Ministry of Defense increased military recruitment targets for Chechnya, creating conditions for the affiliated republic to accept 3,000 Wagner veterans.

“We decided to accept commander Wagner, codenamed Ratibor, into the legendary Akhmat special force. About 3,000 Wagner veterans will join the force with this commander,” Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechen Republic belonging to the Russian Federation, on April 6, posted a notice on the social network Telegram.

He added that the Russian Ministry of Defense has approved military recruitment quotas for Chechnya, creating conditions for the Wagner veteran battalion to merge into Akhmat. Lenta cited well-informed sources as saying that the commander of the Akhmat Special Task Force, Apti Alaudinov, negotiated with Wagner’s leadership about the merger plan.

Mr. Kadyrov said former employees of private military companies will soon take on combat missions. Chechen leaders affirmed that the admission of veteran Wagner is an “important strategic step”, helping to strengthen Russia’s defense capacity and increase the operational efficiency of Akhmat special forces.

In October 2023, Mr. Kadyrov revealed that more than 170 Wagner veterans had been recruited to join the Akhmat special forces. The leader of Chechnya at that time publicly expressed his hope that other members of Wagner would follow suit.

According to French magazine Le Monde, Ratibor’s real name is Aleksandr Kuznetsov, one of Wagner’s senior commanders. He has a close relationship with Andrey Troshev, codename “Silver Hair,” who was publicly promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin to be Wagner’s new leader in July 2023.

Russian media said Kuznetsov used to be a special forces commander in the Russian army. He went to prison in 2010 for kidnapping and robbery, got out in 2013 and joined Wagner a year later. This commander participated in Wagner’s Bakhmut and Soledar campaigns on the Ukrainian battlefield in 2023.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, boss of the private military company Wagner, and his deputy Dmitry Utkin died in a plane crash in Tver province on August 23, 2023. The incident happened less than two months after this private military company rebelled because of disagreements with the Russian Ministry of Defense, sent forces close to Moscow and then decided to withdraw troops to barracks.