Militant islamic fighters train counter-terrorism in Russian Arctic
“As-salamu alaykum,” says Usmayev as he greets the camera in a video show-off recorded on great river Yenisey near Dudinka in the far Russian north.
Special forces from the Russian National Guard and instructors from the Chechen Spetsnaz University are training in the region in freezing temperatures down to minus 30, he explains.
He ends his social media post with the words “Akhmat-Sila!”, a salute widely used in Chechnya to honor Akhmat Kadyrov, the Chechen strongman who was killed in 2004. He is the father of current Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
“Akhmat-Sila” is normally combined with “Allah Akbar” (God is Great).
The Chechen training takes place in the Taymyr Peninsula and started in mid March. It is headed by Daniil Martynov, special adviser to President Kadyrov, along with regional Deputy Prime Minister Usmayev, who reports from site through his Instagram with account name @djihad_95.
This week, the training peaked with a counter-terrorism exercise onboard icebreaking container vessel Nadezhda. Video footage show the Chechens attacking with snowmobiles, special buggies and helicopters and subsequently taking control over the ship.
The Nadezhda is one of several special carriers shuttling to Dudinka as part of company Nornickel’s Arctic logistical scheme. It has top ice-class enabling it to sail up the icy Yenisey even in wintertime.
The anti-terrorism exercise is conducted under the auspices of the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya), and forces from several regions are reported to take part. On site to observe the training was Rosgvardia leader Viktor Zolotov.
The Arctic training is now continued with a several hundred kilometer long expedition with snowmobiles and buggies to Dikson, the University of Spetsnaz informs on its Instagram page.
Chechen special forces have played a special role in the Russian National Guard ever since its establishment in 2016. They were actively involved in training in Murmansk in 2018 and a subsequent exercise in Franz Josef Land.
Ramzan Kadyrov forces have also been training on the North Pole. In April 2016, a combat group headed Daniil Martynov engaged in military training at 90th degrees North, and on their way north, they landed on the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The regional Chechen branch of Rosgvardia is headed by Adam Delimkhanov, a controversial former member of the State Duma, who repeatedly has been accused of grave human rights violations.
The Arctic is a region of special attention for Rosgvardia. According to the military force, it is today responsible for the protection of three nuclear objects, seven nuclear-powered ships and nine seaports on the Northern Sea Route.