Threatologist Profile: Sever-Akhmat (78th Motorised) Regiment — One of Chechnya’s Defence Ministry units

This profile provides key details about the Sever-Akhmat (78th Motorised) regiment, one of several “Chechen” units created within Russia’s Ministry of Defence. Created in summer 2022, it has mostly been active in Ukraine.

The badge of Sever-Akhmat
The badge of Sever-Akhmat (25)

Key takeaways from the profile:

  • Sever-Akhmat is one of four “Chechen” units within the Russian Defence Ministry created in mid-2022. It is constituted as a regiment, but the other three — Vostok-Akhmat, Zapad-Akhmat, and Yug-Akhmat — were all designated as battalions.
  • The Sever-Akhmat regiment is subordinate to the 42nd Motorised Division, part of Russia’s 58th Army of the Southern Military District.
  • It has mainly been active in Ukraine, although it did also deploy to Rostov Oblast in response to the “mutiny” of Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner in June 2023.

Profile last updated: 1 March 2024.

What is the Sever-Akhmat regiment?

The Sever-Akhmat Regiment, otherwise known as the 78th Motorised Regiment, is a “Chechen” unit within the Russian Ministry of Defence. It has been commanded since its creation by Zayndi Zingiyev.

Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov announced plans to create four such units — the Sever-Akhmat regiment and the Yug-Akhmat, Zapad-Akhmat, and Vostok-Akhmat battalions — on 26 June 2022 (23). On 18 July 2022, Kadyrov declared that Sever-Akhmat had been fully constituted (24).

Sever-Akhmat is subordinate to the 42nd Motorised Division, which forms part of Russia’s 58th Army of the Russian Southern Military District (4). It should not be confused with the Akhmat Kadyrov 141st Special Motorised Regiment Sever, which is part of Russia’s National Guard (Rosgvardia). It is technically a regiment, but is occasionally referred to by the media as a battalion. Kavkaz Realii noted that it was unclear why Sever-Akhmat had been constituted as a regiment, when the other three Akhmat Ministry of Defence units had been designated as battalions (21).

Full name (English)Hero of Russia Akhmat Kadyrov 78th Motorised Special Purpose Regiment Sever-Akhmat
Full name (Russian)78-й моторизованный полк специального назначения «Север-Ахмат» имени Героя Российской Федерации А. А. Кадырова
Parent organisation42nd Motorised Division, 58th Army
Date created26 June 2022 (announced); 18 July 2022 (completed)
Date of first observed deployment15 October 2022
Reported sizeIn July 2022, Kadyrov reported that the combined strength of four newly created units would be 1800 (11);
Zingiyev claimed that 1,000 fighters from the unit were fighting in Ukraine (18);
When a new base for the unit was opened in Sernovodsk in May 2023, the ceremony was reportedly attended by 3,250 fighters from the unit (34).
Social media channelsTelegram: sever_ahmat_mo

Where is Sever-Akhmat based?

The initial base of the Sever-Akhmat regiment was in Khankala, Chechnya (43°17’53.74″N, 45°45’18.27″E) (13).

However, in May 2023, a new facility for the unit was opened in Sernovodsk, Sernovodskiy Rayon, Chechnya (33, 34). It is not clear whether this is instead of or as well as the Khankala base.

Who is a member of Sever-Akhmat?

CommanderLieutenant-Colonel Zayndi Zingiyev (3)
Deputy commandersKhaseyn Muduyev (9, 27, 42);
Lieutenant Turpal Ali Kagirov (40);
Lieutenant Abdul Umarov (41).
Other reported membersSpecial purpose battalion commander Zelimkhan Dokashev (Rayan) (29);
1st battalion commander Major Umar Dzhabrailov (44);
Unit press representative Bashir Sautiyev (43).

Kadyrov initially reported that the unit would be comprised exclusively of Chechen fighters (23). Zingiyev, however, later stated that the unit had ethnic Russian, Ingush, and Dagestani members (18).

According to Kadyrov, Sever-Akhmat’s personnel includes people with prior military experience from Syria and Ukraine (24). Kavkaz Realii reported that the unit was mainly formed from employees of the Chechen Interior Ministry’s patrol service and rapid reaction units (22).

Members of Sever-Akhmat reported killed

DateNameRankPlace of originLocation killedSource
15 December 2022Khizir Ruslanovich MutashevSoldierAssinovskaya, Sernovodskiy Rayon, ChechnyaMarinka, Pokrovskyi Rayon, Ukraine(7)
22 March 2023Akhdan BekhsultanovSoldierRoshni-Chu, Urus-Martanovskiy Rayon, ChechnyaNot specified(7)
16 June 2023Adam SadulayevPlatoon commanderGroznyy, ChechnyaNot specified(7, 8)
27 July 2023*MusaCommanderChechnyaNear Bakhmut, Bakhmut Rayon, Ukraine(7)
28 July 2023*Khamzat ArsakhanovUnknownChechnyaNear Bakhmut, Bakhmut Rayon, Ukraine(7)
28 July 2023*Kharon KhaladovUnknownChechnyaNear Bakhmut, Bakhmut Rayon, Ukraine(7, 16)
28 July 2023*Ibragim Manasovich SulbanovVolunteerChechen-Aul, Argun, ChechnyaNear Bakhmut, Bakhmut Rayon, Ukraine(16)
* Date reported; date of actual death unknown

Gallery of Sever-Akhmat members

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Where does Sever-Akhmat operate?

Ukraine

Zingiyev reported that he had been participating in Russia’s “special military operation” since October 2022 (18). A Telegram post by Zingiyev indicated that the unit first deployed to Ukraine on 15 October 2022 (38).

Sever-Akhmat has subsequently fought at a variety of locations in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. Kadyrov has reported that the unit had been active on the “fronts” around Marinka, Khlishchiivka and Soledar-Bakhmut-Artemivsk in Donetsk Oblast and Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, as well as in Luhansk Oblast (17). Zingiyev has also claimed that the group has been active in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts (18).

In June 2023, Russian prisoners’ rights NGO Rus Sidyashchaya published a video of the interrogation of Sergey Medvednik, a captured fighter from Spetsnaz Akhmat. According to Medvednik, Sever-Akhmat and Yug-Akhmat were fighting alongside his group near Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast (12).

The following table details the activities of the unit, as reported by the Chechen authorities, the unit itself, or other pro-Russian sources. These constitute an admission of the unit’s involvement in specific parts of Russia’s broader aggression in Ukraine:

DateArea of operationDetails
November 2022Popasna and Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast; Mariupol, Donetsk OblastKadyrov reported on 27 November 2022 that Sever-Akhmat Regiment and Zapad-Akhmat Battalion had managed to clear these areas of Ukrainian forces. Kadyrov also reported that the commanders of both units had met with Chechen parliamentary speaker Magomed Daudov and Chechen Deputy Prime Minister responsible for the security block Abuzayd Vismuradov on the territory of the “special military operation” (2).
December 2022Marinka, Donetsk OblastSever-Akhmat soldier Khizir Mutashev killed fighting in Marinka (7).
January 2023Donetsk, Donetsk OblastKadyrov reported that Zingiyev had met with Ramzan Aldebirov, head of the Chechen MVD’s medical and sanitation branch, to receive supplies (5).
January 2023Marinka front, Donetsk OblastKadyrov reported that Zingiyev and Muduyev had met with State Duma Deputy for Chechnya Adam Delimkhanov, Interior Ministry for Kurchaloyevskiy Rayon head Rustam Aguyev, and Zapad-Akhmat commander Ismail Aguyev to discuss operations (27).
January 2023Novomikhailovka, Marinka front, Donetsk OblastKadyrov claimed the unit had seized an unspecified point on the front (28). A subsequent post indicated that the location in question was Novomikhailovka (29).
February 2023Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov claimed that Sever-Akhmat, Yug-Akhmat, Vostok-Akhmat, and Zapad-Akhmat had all received “humanitarian” supplies from the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation (30).
May 2023Donbas (unspecified)Kadyrov reported that Zingiyev had met with Aldebirov to receive supplies (31).
May 2023Near Bilohorivka, Luhansk OblastPro-Russian military Telegram channel Rybar claimed Sever-Akhmat had repelled Ukrainian attacks at a compression plant south-east of Bilohorivka (32).
May 2023Donetsk OblastZingiyev reported that the unit had been assigned Donetsk People’s Republic as a new area of responsibility (39).
June 2023Marinka front, Donetsk OblastKadyrov reported that both the Sever-Akhmat Regiment and the Akhmat spetsnaz were fighting on the front (4).
June 2023Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov reported that Russia’s 58th Army — including units from the regiments Akhmat-Rossiya, Akhmat-Chechnya and Sever-Akhmat and the battalions Vostok-Akhmat, Yug-Akhmat and Zapad-Akhmat — had destroyed a large number of Ukrainian tanks participating in a counteroffensive in Zaporizha Oblast (4).
June 2023Marinka front, Donetsk OblastKadyrov reported that the unit had shot down a Ukrainian helicopter (35).
July 2023Marinka, Donetsk OblastKadyrov posted video footage to his Telegram channel, reportedly taken by ChGTRK Groznyy correspondent Ibragim Sugaipov. Kadyrov stated that Sever-Akhmat was patrolling the roads around Marinka (15).
July 2023Artemivsk (Bakhmut) front, Donetsk Oblast; Khlishchiivka front, Donetsk OblastZingiyev reported that the unit was active on the Artemivsk front and the Khlishchiivka front, having previously fought in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizha (18).
July 2023Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov reported that Zingiyev had met with Aldebirov to receive supplies (36)
December 2023near Khlishchiivka, Donetsk OblastKadyrov claimed that the unit had captured two Ukrainian servicemen (45).
February 2024Khlishchiivka front, Donetsk OblastKadyrov claimed the unit had captured an unspecified point and three Ukrainian soldiers (37).

Russia

DateArea of operationDetails
June 2023Rostov OblastRostov Telegram channels reported that units from the battalion were deployed to Rostov during Wagner’s march across Russia (14)

Other notable details

Noteworthy incidents and events

Zingiyev attended a ceremony in June 2023, during which the “volunteer” Chechen unit Spetsnaz Akhmat signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence. The ceremony was also attended by Spetsnaz Akhmat commander Apty Alaudinov, Delimkhanov, Russian Armed Forces General Staff Deputy Chief Aleksey Kim, and Russian University of Spetsnaz Director Baybetar Vaykhanov (20).

Also in June 2023, five members of the unit who had been captured by Ukraine and returned to Chechnya renewed their participation in the “special military operation.” The men had been criticised by Kadyrov for allowing themselves to be captured (10).

In July 2023, Islam Belokiyev, press secretary for the pro-Ukrainian Chechen Sheikh Mansur Battalion, posted a video reportedly taken by a member of the unit. The anonymous video creator claimed that the unit had lost all but 60 of its 500 members fighting near Bakhmut (16). Unit commander Zingiyev denied the losses (18). Chechen Minister for Print and Information Akhmed Dudayev forced a local resident to apologise for spreading false information, after he had disseminated on social media audio recordings related to the losses (19).

International response

Neither Sever-Akhmat nor Zingiyev have been sanctioned by the US, the UK, the EU, or Ukraine, despite their extensive involvement in Russia’s “special military operation.”

Graphic showing failure to sanction by all listed countries

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Sources

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