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

This profile provides key details about the Zapad-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 Zapad-Akhmat badge (23)

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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

  • Zapad-Akhmat is one of four “Chechen” units within the Russian Defence Ministry created in mid-2022. It is constituted as a battalion; Vostok-Akhmat and Yug-Akhmat were likewise designated as battalions, whereas Sever-Akhmat was constituted as a regiment.
  • The Zapad-Akhmat Battalion is subordinate to the 42nd Motorised Division, part of Russia’s 58th Army of the Southern Military District.
  • It has deployed predominantly in Ukraine, but has also provided border security in Belgorod Oblast.

Profile last updated: 9 May 2024.

What is the Zapad-Akhmat Battalion?

The Zapad-Akhmat Battalion is a “Chechen” unit within the Russian Ministry of Defence. It has been commanded since its creation by Ismail Aguyev.

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 (8). On 28 June, Kadyrov said that the process of forming Zapad-Akhmat and Vostok-Akhmat was already complete (4).

Zapad-Akhmat is subordinate to the 42nd Motorised Division, 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 (11).

Full name (English)Zapad-Akhmat Battalion of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
Full name (Russian)Батальон «Запад-АХМАТ» МО РФ
Parent organisation42nd Motorised Division, 58th Army (3)
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 (5). Aguyev stated in the same month that the unit comprised 450 people (16).
Social media channels

Where is Zapad-Akhmat based?

The base of the Zapad-Akhmat Battalion is reportedly in Avtury, Shalinskiy Rayon, Chechnya (20), but insufficient details are available to allow for geolocation.

Who is a member of the Zapad-Akhmat Battalion?

CommanderLieutenant-colonel Ismail Aguyev (1, 2, 28)
Deputy commanders
Other reported membersCompany commander Abdulrakhman Isayev (19); Fighter Saslambek Agutev (18)

When the unit was created, Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov stated it would be comprised exclusively of Chechen fighters (8).

Kadyrov has reported that the unit has also operated under the direct command of Rustam Aguyev, Ismail’s brother and head of the Interior Ministry for Kurchaloyevskiy Rayon (26, 27).

Members of Zapad-Akhmat reported killed

DateNameRankPlace of originLocation killedSource
August 2022Said-Magomed (surname unknown)UnknownKurchaloy, ChechnyaUnknown(18)
20 January 2023*Islam Usmanovich EdilsultanovUnknownChechnyaUnknown(6)
23 January 2023*Rizvan Nuridovich OsmanovUnknownChechnyaUnknown(6)
* Date reported; date of actual death unknown

Gallery of Zapad-Akhmat members

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Where does the Zapad-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 (21).
October 2022unspecified location, UkraineKadyrov reported that his sons Eli, Akhmat, and Adam had travelled to Ukraine, where they were photographed with fighters from Zapad-Akhmat (17).
November 2022Popasnyy, Mariupol and Lisichansk, UkraineKadyrov reported on 27 November 2022 that Sever-Akhmat Regiment and Zapad-Akhmat Battalion had managed to clear these areas of Ukrainian forces. Kadyrov stated that the commanders of both units had met with Chechen parliamentary speaker Magomed Daudov and Abuzayd Vismuradov, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister responsible for the security block, on the territory of the “special military operation” (2).
December 2022Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov claimed the Akhmat Kadyrov foundation had delivered “humanitarian aid” to fighters from Yug-Akhmat, Sever-Akhmat, and Zapad-Akhmat (13).
January 2023Marinskiy frontKadyrov reported that State Duma Deputy for Chechnya Adam Delimkhanov, Rustam Aguyev, Ismail Aguyev, Sever-Akhmat commander Zayndi Zingiyev and Sever-Akhmat deputy commander Khaseyn Muduyev had all met to discuss operations (9). Kadyrov also reported that Zapad-Akhmat was operating alongside the Batalkhadzhinsky rapid reaction detachment, an Ingush unit created within Akhmat spetsnaz in November 2022 (22).
February 2023Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov claimed that Sever-Akhmat, Yug-Akhmat, Vostok-Akhmat, and Zapad-Akhmat had all received “humanitarian” supplies from the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation (10).
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 (3).
July 2023Odnorobivka, Kharkiv OblastKadyrov claimed that troops under the command of Rustam Aguyev and Gayrbek Delimkhanov, head of the Chechen Interior Ministry branches for Kurchaloyevskiy and Shatoyskiy Rayon respectively, had together with Zapad-Akhmat destroyed an arms cache belonging to the Ukrainian military (23).
The Ukrainian side of the border crossing at Nekhoteyevka, Belgorod Oblastnear Rabotino, Zaporizhzhia OblastKadyrov claimed that Zapad-Akhmat had carried out a strike on the customs post on the Ukrainian side of the border (24).
October 2023near Morozova Dolyna, Kharkiv OblastKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhma, operating under the command of Rustam Aguyev, had carried out an artillery strike on Ukrainian units (26).
November 2023Perovske, Kharkiv OblastKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhma, operating under the command of Rustam Aguyev, had carried out an artillery strike on Ukrainian units (27).
December 2023Udy, Kharkiv OblastKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat had carried out a joint operation with the Yamal detachment from Belgorod (29).
January 2024Chervona Zorya, Kharkiv OblastKadyrov reported that Rustam Aguyev, Vedenskiy Rayon Interior Ministry head Abubakar Borshigov and Zapad-Akhmat had carried out an operation near the village (30).
February 2024Kharkiv frontKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat had carried out an air strike on a Ukrainian military unit (32).
March 2024Kharkiv frontKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat and the Kaskad drone unit had discovered a Ukrainian military deployment (33).
March 2024Orlivka, Kharkiv OblastKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat had carried out an artillery strike (34).

Russia

In June 2023, Kadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat had deployed to Belgorod Oblast to prevent diversions linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine and provide border security. The move followed incursions by the Russian Volunteer Corp and Free Russia, both of which are fighting with Ukraine against the Russian regime. The deployment followed talks between Delimkhanov, Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, and representatives of the Ministry of Defence and the local branch of the National Guard (14, 15).

DateArea of operationDetails
June 2023Belgorod OblastKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat had deployed to Belgorod Oblast to prevent diversions (14).
October 2023Belgorod OblastKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat continued to provide border security in Belgorod Oblast (25).
January 2024Belgorod OblastKadyrov reported that Zapad-Akhmat continued to provide border security in Belgorod Oblast (31).

Other notable details

Noteworthy incidents and events

Aguyev was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in April 2023 and awarded the Hero of Chechnya medal in October 2023 for his services in Ukraine (28, 12).

International response

Neither Zapad-Akhmat nor Aguyev 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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