Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said he has exempted his region from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military call-up following protests in his home region and his anger over a recent Russian-Ukrainian prisoner exchange.
Kadyrov said late Thursday that Chechnya had already deployed 20,000 troops since the start of the Ukraine invasion in February.
“The republic of Chechnya over-fulfilled its conscription plan by 254%… even before the announcement of a partial mobilization,” he wrote in a Telegram post.
Kadyrov and his allies have boasted of the presence of Chechen troops in Ukraine since early in Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, while Chechen soldiers regularly post videos of themselves in Ukraine on social media.
Appearing to address the dozens of Chechen women who took to the streets of Grozny against Putin’s draft announcement, Kadyrov said:
“I call on the Chechen population, particularly our beloved and respected mothers, to keep calm.”
Kadyrov’s defiance of the Russian Defense Ministry’s orders for each region to call up reservists comes only days after he himself had urged colleagues across Russia’s 11 time zones to “self-mobilize” 85,000 troops.
It also follows his increasingly open criticism of the Kremlin’s decisions surrounding the war in Ukraine.
Earlier Thursday, Kadyrov said he was “extremely dissatisfied” with Russia’s exchange of 215 Ukrainian and foreign fighters for 55 Russian soldiers and a Putin ally suspected of high treason by Kyiv.
In his latest statement on Chechnya’s over-performance of draft quotas, Kadyrov decried Russia’s territorial losses more than six months after launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“If we had used at least a fraction of our weapons and equipment, we would have reached our goal long ago,” he wrote.
“But since the leadership thinks otherwise, it’s up to us to follow orders.”
Kadyrov is widely believed to enjoy free rein over Chechnya, a Russian subject that had fought two bloody separatist wars against Moscow, in exchange for loyalty to the Kremlin.
The Kremlin did not comment on Kadyrov’s statement in its daily briefing with reporters Friday afternoon.