A furious row has erupted between two pro-war allies of Vladimir Putin, threatening to undermine the Kremlin’s military campaign in Ukraine. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin are part of the hard pro-war faction within the Kremlin elite and have provided military support to Putin’s army. Kadyrov has reportedly sent thousands of his fighters, known as Kadyrovites, to Ukraine, where they have been mostly deployed in the rear, to prevent battlefield desertions by Putin’s troops.
The Kadyrovites have acquired a reputation for brutality and stand accused of raping and shooting demoralised Russian soldiers.
Prigozhin’s Wagner units have been involved in heavy fighting in Ukraine’s Donbas region, and spearheaded Russia’s attacks on Bakhmut, suffering huge casualties in the process.
Both men are seen as possible successors to Putin’s Kremlin throne and have vied to curry favour with the Russian strongman.
In a sign that tensions between the two militia rivals are reaching boiling point, Chechen leaders launched a blistering attack on the Wagner boss.
Earlier last week, Prigozhin casually remarked that he was unsure of what Chechnya’s Akhmat special forces were doing in Ukraine – the implication being they were having an easy time of it, while his militia had borne the brunt of the fighting on the frontlines.
The 141st Special Motorised Regiment, which provides personal protection to Kadyrov, has deployed some of its units to Ukraine.
The special forces brigade is named after Ahmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in May 2004 and was the father of the current Chechen head of state.
In a scathing retort to Prigozhin’s implied put-down, Kadyrov’s right-hand man, Adam Delimkhanov, accused the Wagner boss of being a “screaming blogger”, who was sowing needless panic among ordinary Russians.
“You have become a blogger who screams and shouts off to the whole world about all the problems,” he said in a video posted to social media.
“Stop shouting, yelling and screaming.”
He added that Wagner had received more equipment “than anyone else” from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and still suffered significant casualties.
Delimkhanov, a serving MP in Russia’s state parliament, challenged the Wagner boss to meet him in person, so they could discuss just what the Akhmat units were up to in Ukraine.
READ MORE: MoD warns Putin not prepared for Kyiv counterattack after 60k troops lost
Prigozhin on numerous occasions blasted Russia’s military top brass for deliberately starving his forces of ammunition during the battle for Bakhmut.
In early May, he threatened to pull his forces off the Bakhmut front in an expletive laden video address to Putin and his top general Valery Gerasimov, that was widely shared on social media channels.
He cited as the reason as “an absence of ammunition” that was dooming his men to “perish senselessly”.
Akhmat Special Forces Commander Major General Apty Alaudinov also weighed in on the attack.
He said he only respected Wagner personnel and not Prigozhin, stating the militia received tanks, planes, helicopters, and a 50,000-person army – unlike his forces.
Replying to the concerted attacks against his boss, Dmitry Utkin said his group was ready to meet the Chechens “man to man”.
The commander reiterated that the Akhmat Special Forces are part of the Russian MoD and claimed that many former Wagner fighters had joined the Chechen armed formation.
Utkin is a former Rusisan special forces officer who is believed to be Wagner’s most senior commander.
A former Russian FSB officer who played a key role in the annexation of Crimea in 2014, claimed Wagner had sustained staggering losses in Bakhmut.
The city has been the scene of the bloodiest and deadliest urban fighting in Europe since World War 2, claiming tens of thousands of lives on both sides.
Igor Girkin, an ultra-Russian nationalist estimated that Prigozhin’s militia had lost a staggering 40,000 men in their assault on the Donbas city.