Maybe it’s in case they get lost.
A new uniform for Moscow’s Chechen forces features a patch prominently proclaiming their indented target — “to Kyiv.”
A video distributed by the British Russian-based news agency East2West shows a column of Chechen troops marching in front of armored vehicles flying the Chechen flag. The men, clad in black uniforms, each wear the patch across their backs.
The bravado belies a blundering advance on the part of Russian forces, who already tried and failed for the Ukrainian capital earlier this year. After a retreat and refit, the Kremlin’s finest declared they would take the eastern Ukrainian industrial heartland of the Donbas — a victory that has so far eluded them.
Still, American officials have warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has a large appetite for Ukrainian territory, and he hopes to annex large portions of Ukraine before halting hostilities.
The Chechen volunteers are part of what some analysts are calling a “shadow mobilization,” an effort to call up more troops for service in Ukraine without incurring the political cost of sending the sons of the Russian middle class to fight and die.
“These are not middle-class kids from St. Petersburg or Moscow,” Britain’s top spy, MI6 Chief Richard Moore, said of Russia’s recruits while speaking at the Aspen Security forum last week. “These are poor kids from rural parts of Russia, they’re from blue-collar towns in Siberia, they are disproportionately from ethnic minorities — these are [Putin’s] cannon fodder.”
British and American intelligence have both assessed that Russia risks running out of recruits and supplies before it achieves its goals in Ukraine — whether or not those goals include capturing Kyiv.