Wednesday, 23 November 2022

The Army Within: Chechnya’s Security Forces

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Chechen forces are an integral part of Russia's Armed Forces. Its military formations have generally been described as 'Feuerwehr Der Front' during the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War, leading assaults and plugging holes in Russia's defensive lines. The tendency of some Chechen fighters to film and upload their exploits in combat on TikTok has also resulted in the less glamorous title of TikTok Brigade. In reality, Chechen forces appear to be faring better than most analogous units in the Russian military. Though Chechen units are part of the National Guard, and thus trained and equipped to combat internal threats, they have been mostly deployed to fight a conventional conflict in Ukraine.

The modern-day Chechen Security Forces (CSF) are a continuation of the militias loyal to pro-Russian separatist leader and later President Akhmat Kadyrov, who was assassinated in 2004 and succeeded by his son Ramzan Kadyrov. The CSF bears no relation to the now disbanded Vostok and Zapad battalions headed by the Yamadayev brothers that were killed in the Yamadayev-Kadyrov power struggle. In 2006, most Chechen forces loyal to Kadyrov were incorporated in the Ministry of Internal Affairs as the 141st Motorised Regiment, later reassigned to the National Guard of Russia. The popular term Kadyrovtsy is commonly used to refer to Chechen forces under the control of President Ramzan Kadyrov – although nominally they are under the control of the Russian National Guard.

The Chechen Republic is governed by Ramzan Kadyrov, who can frequently be found inspecting and photographing military equipment, and was even seen recording sections of Grozny Victory Day Parades on his mobile phone. [1] Under Kadyrov's rule, Chechnya has carved out a high degree of autonomy compared to other Russian republics, and is the only republic boast its own de-facto army. In accordance with its intended purpose of combating Russia's internal enemies, the CSF operates no heavy weaponry such as tanks, artillery, air defence systems or aviation assets (although at least three autogyros are in use). The CSF has deployed to various parts of Syria since December 2016 and frequently shows off its equipment during massive rallies and the Grozny Victory Day Parades. [2] [3] [4]
The structure of Chechnya's Security Forces currently consists of the 141st Special Motorised Regiment A.-Kh. Kadyrov ''North'', the 249th Separate Special Motorised Battalion "South", the ''Akhmat'' Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR), the ''Akhmat-Grozny'' Special Purpose Mobile Unit (OMON), the ''A.A. Kadyrov'' Special Purpose Police Regiment (PPSN) and uniformed police forces. In June 2022 it was announced by Ramzan Kadyrov that four additional battalions Sever-Akhmat (North), Yug-Akhmat (South), Zapad-Akhmat (West), and Vostok-Akhmat (East) would be formed to bolster Russia's war effort in Ukraine. [5] In addition to being the namesake of most of Chechnya's units, former President Akhmat Kadyrov is also remembered in the battle cry Akhmat Sila (meaning: Akhmat Strength).

The Chaborz-M6 light strike vehicle (LSV), which is designed and produced in the Chechen Republic.

Chechen Security Forces generally operate the most modern equipment available to the Russian National Guard. This includes a great number of MRAPs, IMVs and APCs, but also infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). The CSF has also gotten its hands on a number of vehicle types not in service with other Russian units. These include a small number of Arlan MRAPs (South African designed Marauder MRAPs) from Kazakhstan, Stallion II IMVs from Jordan and Zibar Mk.2 light strike vehicles (LSVs) from Israel. The CSF also operates several AFV types captured in Ukraine. This includes at least three BTR-3s IFVs, several Varta MRAPS and around a dozen KrAZ Cobra, Novator and M1151 HMMWV IMVs.

The Chechen automobile manufacturer ChechenAvto also produces the Chaborz-M3 and -M6 light strike vehicles (LSVs) for the CSF. These have mostly entered service with Chechen units, though a limited number have found their way to other National Guard units as well. [6] Kadyrov also announced the CSF's intention to assemble the Bulat 6x6 APC in Chechnya, although it is believed that apart from a Russian-produced prototype slightly modified to suit Chechen requirements no actual assembly or production was ever launched. [7] The CSF did receive a number of specially modified Iveco LMV Rys known as ''Borz'' complete with a wolf's head ornament on the hood.
In July 2022, Chechnya became the first operator of the Russian Remdiesel Z-STS 6x6 APC, which was named Akhmat by the manufacturer in honour of Akhmat Kadyrov. A first batch of twenty Akhmats was supplied to Chechnya in July 2022 before being sent to Ukraine, where they joined Arlan, Typhoon and Patrol MRAPs already in active use with Chechen forces deployed there. [8] The Z-STS Akhmat is built on the chassis of the KamAZ-5350 6x6 truck and was specifically designed with operations in Ukraine in mind. The speed with which the Akhmat was designed is impressive, as it only took four months from the initial design concept until the first delivery to the CSF. [9] These APCs, along with the CSF's other modern (Russian-made) AFVs, will continue to serve as the bulk of the Chechnya's Security Forces armoured vehicle fleet for the foreseeable future.

A BMP-1P in use with the Chechen СОБР. The BMP-1P is the only type of tracked vehicle in service with Chechen Security Forces. Note the flag with the face of Akhmat Kadyrov.

This list attempts to list all AFV types currently in service with the Chechen Security Forces. This list only includes vehicles and equipment of which photographic evidence is available. When the operator of a vehicle type is known this is indicated in brackets. СОБР = SOBR, ОМОН = OMON, ППСН = PPSN, ЮГ = South, СЕВЕР = North
(Click on the vehicles to get a picture of them in Chechen service)

Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs)

Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs)

Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs)

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles

Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMVs)

Light Strike Vehicles (LSVs)

Armoured Trucks


(Armed) Pick-Up Trucks




[1] Grozny Chechnya Victory Day Parade 2017
[3] Grozny Chechnya Victory Day Parade 2017
[4] В Грозном состоялся грандиозный военный парад, посвященный 77-й годовщине Победы в Великой
[6] Кадыров испытал чеченский броневик "Болат"
[8] Armoured vehicles captured from the Ukrainian army by Chechen fighters.
[9] Russia has developed an armored car "Akhmat" inspired by the special operation
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Russia’s Wars: Listing Equipment Losses During The Second Chechen War (1999-2000)