Threatologist Profile: Vostok-Akhmat Battalion — One of Chechnya’s Defence Ministry units

This profile provides key details about the Vostok-Akhmat Battalion, one of several “Chechen” units created within Russia’s Ministry of Defence. Created in summer 2022, it has participated in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The emblem of Vostok-Akhmat
The badge of Vostok-Akhmat (16)

How to use these profiles

These profiles are intended as a research resource, consolidating reporting on the origins and operations of key security units. You can use them to provide background information when writing about individual units, or you can use them to compare different parts of the Chechen security services.

Key takeaways from the profile

  • Vostok-Akhmat is one of four “Chechen” units within the Russian Defence Ministry created in mid-2022. It is constituted as a battalion; Zapad-Akhmat and Yug-Akhmat were likewise designated as battalions, whereas Sever-Akhmat was constituted as a regiment.
  • The Vostok-Akhmat Battalion is subordinate to the 291st Regiment, part of Russia’s 58th Army of the Southern Military District.
  • It has participated in Russia’s war on Ukraine, fighting on the Zaporizhzhia and Orikhiv “fronts,” but has been less active than Sever-Akhmat and Zapad-Akhmat.

Profile last updated: 1 May 2024.

What is the Vostok-Akhmat Battalion?

The Vostok-Akhmat Battalion is a “Chechen” unit within the Russian Ministry of Defence. It is commanded by Vakha Kambulatov (Askhab), who replaced founding commander Aslanbek Saliyev (Zakat) in June 2023 (2, 3, 14). Kambulatov had previously served as deputy commander (15).

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 (10). On 28 June, Kadyrov said that the process of forming Zapad-Akhmat and Vostok-Akhmat was already complete (6).

Vostok-Akhmat is subordinate to the 291st Regiment, which forms part of Russia’s 58th Army of the Russian Southern Military District (4). 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 (12).

Full name (English)Vostok-Akhmat Battalion of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
Full name (Russian)Батальон «Восток-АХМАТ» МО РФ
Parent organisation291st Regiment, 42nd Motorised Division, 58th Army (16)
Date created26 June 2022 (announced); 28 June 2022 (completed)
Date of first observed deploymentSeptember 2022
Reported sizeIn July 2022, Kadyrov reported that the combined strength of four newly created units would be 1800 (7).
Social media channels

Where is Vostok-Akhmat based?

The base of the Vostok-Akhmat Battalion is in Khankala, Chechnya (43°17’53.74″N, 45°45’18.27″E) (13).

Its deployment to Ukraine is based near Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast (2).

Who is a member of the Vostok-Akhmat Battalion?

CommanderMajor Vakha Khambulatov (Askhab), appointed 16 June 2023 (2, 3, 14).
Deputy commanders
Other reported membersAslanbek Saliyev (Zakat) commanded the battalion until June 2023, when he was appointed commander of Akhmat-Chechnya (3, 14).

When the unit was created, Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov stated it would be comprised exclusively of Chechen fighters (10). Reports on the deaths of the units fighters listed below indicate that this is not the case.

Members of Vostok-Akhmat reported killed

DateNameRankPlace of originLocation killedSource
6 November 2022Magomed YediyevUnknownBeno-Yurt, Nadterechnyy Rayon, ChechnyaLishichansk(8)
8 December 2023*Ruslan BogutovUnknownKagalnitskoy, Rostov OblastZaporizhzhia Oblast(8)
8 December 2023*Valeriy SkachkoUnknownKagalnitskoy, Rostov OblastZaporizhzhia Oblast(8)
* Date reported; date of actual death unknown

Gallery of Vostok-Akhmat members

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Where does the Vostok-Akhmat Battalion operate?

Ukraine

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
September 2022DonbassKadyrov reported on 16 September 2022 that both Zapad-Akhmat and Vostok-Akhmat had deployed to the Donbass (25).
November 2022Lisichansk, Luhansk OblastFighter Magomed Yediyev killed in Ukrainian military strike on unit in Lisichansk (8).
February 2023Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov claimed that Sever-Akhmat, Yug-Akhmat, Vostok-Akhmat, and Zapad-Akhmat had all received “humanitarian” supplies from the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation (11).
April 2023Zaporizhzhia frontKadyrov reported that Vostok-Akhmat had repelled Ukrainian attacks on the front (15).
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 Zaporizhzhia Oblast (4).
June 2023Orikhiv frontKadyrov claimed that Vostok-Akhmat had participated in Russia’s successful repulsion of a Ukrainian counterattack on the front (3).
July 2023Orikhiv frontKadyrov reported that the battalion was maintaining defences on the front (16).
August 2023Orikhiv and Zaporizhzhia fronts, including near village of RabotinoKadyrov reported that the battalion was maintaining defences on the Orekhovskiy front and also engaged in combat on the Zaporizhzhia front (18, 19).
September 2023near Rabotino, Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov reported that the battalion was opposing Ukrainian forces near the village (20).
January 2024near Rabotino, Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov reported that the battalion was fighting Ukrainian forces near the village (21).
January 2024Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia OblastSee discussion of incidents.
February 2024near Rabotino, Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov reported that the battalion was fighting Ukrainian forces near the village, alongside a combined detachment of the Chechen Interior Ministry under the command of Iskhak Chalayev and Isa Zakriyev (22).
April 2024near Rabotino, Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov reported that the battalion was fighting Ukrainian forces near the village (23).

Other notable details

Noteworthy incidents and events

Khambulatov was awarded the Order of Kadyrov in October 2023 for his services in Ukraine (13). In April 2024, he was also awarded Hero of Chechnya, the republic’s highest state honour (24).

Russian “military correspondents” disseminated a video online showing battalion commander Khambulatov involved in a violent confrontation with Russian military personnel during an attempted document check in Melitopol, Ukraine. National Policy Minister Akhmed Dudayev dismissed the incident as a deliberate “provocation” (2, 5).

International response

Neither Vostok-Akhmat, Khambulatov, or Saliyev 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

Show sources
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