Advertisement
News by VICE

Running Supplies With the Dudayev Battalion: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 92)

In this dispatch, VICE News meets a Chechen fighter in Ukraine and follows his battalion on a supply run to the frontline near Debaltseve.

by VICE News
Feb 9 2015, 10:35am

Thousands of foreign nationals have flocked to join the fighting in eastern Ukraine since the conflict began last April. Though both sides have benefited from foreign fighters, many are Russian soldiers who traveled to Ukraine voluntarily or followed orders from their superiors, and most have fought with the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic. Their presence has helped tip the scales of the battle in favor of the separatists.

Many of the Russian fighters hail from Chechnya and are loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. A former rebel in Chechnya's conflict with Russia, Kadyrov switched sides and eventually became head of the Chechen Republic and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Ukraine, some Chechens that never abandoned the struggle against the Russian military back home are now fighting against the separatists, using their battlefield experience to help the Ukrainians defend their homeland. 

One Chechen fighter has a history of confrontation with Russia that stands out from the rest: Adam Osmayev. Educated in a private school in the UK, Osmayev was arrested in Ukraine in 2011 and accused of plotting to assassinate Putin. He managed to avoid being extradited to Russia and was recently released from prison in November. 

After securing his freedom, Osmayev traveled to eastern Ukraine to join the Dudayev Battalion, a volunteer group created by former Chechen guerrilla fighter Isa Munayev to fight pro-Russia separatists in the Donbass region. When Munayev was killed last week during clashes near Debaltseve, Osmayev took control of the battalion. VICE News met with Osmayev to find out more about the battalion, and to follow his fighters on a supply run to the frontline near Debaltseve.

Watch "A Village In Ruins, Defending Daily Attacks: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 91)"

Watch "Trying to Flee Debaltseve: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 90)"

Read "Western Leaders Divided Over How to Handle Ukraine Crisis as Peace Talks Fizzle"