In another development linked to the Chechen security services, the Russian Defence Ministry announced that it had signed a contract with the Akhmat ‘volunteer’ detachment operating in Ukraine —which, among the sea of Akhmats, apparently refers to Akmat-Spetsnaz (6). The contract is the first to define the role of volunteer detachments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and comes after Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu signed an order requiring all such units to sign a contract with his ministry (7).
The statement on the Defence Ministry’s website described the contract as “determining the legal regulation and activities of the volunteer unit Akhmat in the zone in which the special military operation is being conducted, and also extending to volunteers and members of their family the measures of social defence and support established by the state.”
The contract was signed by Aleksey Kim, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and Adam Dashayev, recently appointed director of the Russian University of Spetsnaz. Also in attendance at the signing ceremony was Adam Delimkhanov, Kadyrov’s close ally and State Duma deputy for Chechnya, and Apty Alaudinov, commander of Akhmat-Spetsnaz.
Kim characterised the contract as an effort to increase the effectiveness and coordination of all forces deployed to Ukraine. He expressed his hope that other volunteer units would sign similar contracts.
Akhmat-Spetsnaz’s classification as a ‘volunteer’ battalion certainly requires significant caveats. Some of its participants may, of course, have volunteered; others may have been strongly ‘incentivised’ by the repressive regime in Chechnya. The unit itself, however, is firmly under the control of the Chechen authorities — as Delimkhanov’s presence at the ceremony clearly indicates. Even Alaudinov noted Kadyrov’s role in the creation of the unit.
It is therefore somewhat ironic to attempt to establish a firm legal basis for the activities of a group that, in Russian law, has quite a weak one. It forms part of the curious legalism that characterises authoritarian regimes like Russia’s. Alaudinov commented that, although the unit receive funding from the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation, “the entire main resources we receive from the Defence Ministry. Naturally, it was correct to take a decision to legalise the receipt by us of these resources, arms and provisions” — a tacit acknowledgement that the transfer of resources preceded the legal foundation for doing so.