While reports of ongoing negotiations vary, general consensus suggests that Russian and Ukrainian officials are getting closer to agreeing on some of the main points of contention. But some of Putin’s allies believe the Kremlin is conceding too much and should focus on escalating aggression, not talk.
Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic and Lieutenant General in the Russian military – often branded as Putin’s “attack dog” – has publicly criticized Russia’s top negotiator for being too subservient to Ukraine.
Sharing the warlord’s video on Twitter, journalist Kevin Rothrock reported: “Sitting in his gold-plated office, Chechen Dictator Ramzan Kadyrov openly criticized Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky for being too accommodating of Ukraine.”
He added this showed “cracks are starting to show” in Russia’s leadership.
Bloomberg columnist Clara Ferreira Marques added Kadyrov’s address was “totally disturbing” and “unclear”.
He quoted him as saying: “If Kyiv doesn’t come to us willingly, we have to go and visit.”
The threat stands in stark contrast to Moscow’s recent announcement that it is carrying out its military activities around the Ukrainian capital to increase the chances of success in the ongoing peace talks.
On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Moscow had decided to “fundamentally reduce military activity towards Kyiv and Chernigiv. [to] enhance mutual trust for future negotiations to agree and sign a peace deal with Ukraine”.
Western leaders suggest these comments are meant to distract from the idea that Russian troops are pulling out more by necessity than by choice.
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Rob Lee, PhD student in War Studies at KCL, added that matters will only get worse as peace talks continue.
He said: “If you think Kadyrov now has an opinion, wait until Russia takes Mariupol and he tries to take full credit for the role of the Chechen forces (despite the huge losses of the Russian military).
“I would not be surprised if this leads to greater hostility with the Ministry of Defense and security services.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov celebrated the “positive movement” in recent talks, highlighting that “the Crimea and Donbas issues are solved once and for all”.
He was immediately slapped for exaggerating Ukraine’s shift in position, with Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, insisting the issue would only be resolved “after Ukraine recovers its sovereignty”.
He added: “Lavrov shows a misunderstanding of the negotiation process.”