Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Saturday his forces were ready to help put down a mutiny by Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and to use harsh methods if necessary.
Kadyrov in a statement posted on Telegram called Prigozhin’s behaviour “a knife in the back” and called on Russian soldiers not to give in to any “provocations.”
He said that Chechen units were moving towards the “zones of tension” and would act to “preserve Russia’s units and defend its statehood”.
Kadyrov, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin who commands extensive military forces in Chechnya, had previously been seen as a Prigozhin ally, sharing some of the Wagner boss’s criticisms of the Russian military hierarchy.
In recent weeks, however, Chechen commanders aligned with Kadyrov had begun criticising Prigozhin’s regular outbursts against the defence ministry.
Reporting by Reuters, Editing by Andrew Osborn