Chechen fighters caught on video firing wildly into Mariupol homes

Chechen fighters caught on video firing wildly into Mariupol homes

Chechen fighters go house-to-house in Mariupol while firing wildly in new video from city where ‘as many as 20,000’ have been killed in hellish fighting – as France reveals ambitious plan to evacuate besieged residents

  • The video was shared by Kremlin-allied Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov 
  • It also showed soldiers seemingly celebrating as they shot heavy machine guns
  • Mariupol has seen some of the most intense fighting since Putin’s forces invaded
  • Officials say at least 2,400 civilians have been killed in the southern port city
  • But one government official in the city has said he fears as many as 20,000
  • The U.N. said on Friday it had received information about mass graves
  • Meanwhile, the mayor of the city said on Saturday he had spoken to France’s ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians 

A group of Chechen fighters have been seen on video wildly firing heavy machine guns towards residential buildings in Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol.

The video, shared by Kremlin-allied Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, also showed the Chechen soldiers seemingly celebrating as the camera panned to show the hollowed-out shells of destroyed apartment blocks.

The soldiers, dressed in camouflaged military gear, pumped their fists to the camera and could be heard shouting ‘allahu akbar’.

On his Telegram channel, Kadyrov claimed his fighters were clearing ‘the territory of the Nazis’ – parroting a line used by Russian president Vladimir Putin and his propaganda machine to justify the invasion of Ukraine.

Mariupol has seen some of the most intense fighting since Putin ordered his armies into Ukraine on February 24. Russian forces have been shelling the city indiscriminately, razing large swathes of the city.

Officials say at least 2,400 civilians have been killed in the southern port city, but it is feared that the true toll is much higher. One official said earlier this month that he feared as many as 20,000 people could have been killed.

The U.N. said on Friday it had received information about mass graves in the city, which was the site of a devastating Russian strike on a theatre that killed 300.

Meanwhile, the mayor of the city said on Saturday he had spoken to France’s ambassador to Ukraine about options for evacuating civilians, after French President Emmanuel Macron said he would propose to Russia a plan to help people leave.

In what could see NATO soldiers on the ground in Ukraine for the first time since the start of the war, Macron announced a bold plan with Turkey and Greece to evacuate ‘all those who wish to leave Mariupol’, adding he would discuss it with Putin soon. 

Speaking on national television, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in the encircled city remained critical, with street fighting taking place in its centre.


A group of Chechen fighters have been seen on video wildly firing heavy machine guns towards residential buildings in Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol


The video, shared by Kremlin-allied Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, also showed the Chechen soldiers seemingly celebrating pumping their fists to the camera, which panned to show the hollowed-out shells of destroyed apartment blocks

A view of the destruction of the city of besieged Mariupol in Ukraine on Saturday March 26

Kadyrov on Thursday claimed his forces had pierced Ukrainian defences to take Mariupol’s city hall and hoist Russia’s flag. That claim was not verified, and Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia was still trying to sack Mariupol ‘without success.’

The Chechen military is known for its Hollywood-inspired videos claiming to show their soldiers in action, while actually showing them doing very little. Experts say the videos are just another branch of Putin’s propaganda efforts.

Kadyrov’s video also showed his soldiers climbing through the window of a building, seemingly to help a civilian out. However, while the soldiers were passing a mattress between then, the footage did not actually show anyone being carried.

Instead, one grinning fighter wearing sunglasses panned his camera around to show the scene of devastation around him, in a style that – anywhere else in the world – could be mistaken with a selfie-video from an Instagram influencer.

Chechen troops have been embedded in the National Guard of Russia and have been fighting in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. 

One squad of Kadyrov’s fighters was reportedly sent to try and assassinate Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, but was destroyed by Ukraine’s forces.

Images from Mariupol, home to 400,000 people before the war, have shown destroyed buildings, burnt out vehicles and shell-shocked survivors venturing out for provisions. Residents have buried victims in makeshift graves as the ground thaws.

‘It’s scary, I don’t know how we’re going to survive,’ an elderly woman resident told , Reuters, declining to identify herself by name. ‘We’re lying there, hoping they won’t bomb us. Look at how many dead bodies we’ve buried around the building.’

Zelensky on Thursday begged NATO for unlimited weapons to help besieged Ukrainian cities like Mariupol cling on in the face of fierce Russian bombardment.  

A humanitarian convoy leaving Mariupol, including ambulances carrying wounded children arrived in Zaporizhzhia after being held up at Russian checkpoints for two days, a Ukrainian official said.

‘The ambulances carrying wounded children are also queuing. The people have been deprived of water and food for two days,’ she wrote on Telegram, blasting Russian troops for ‘creating obstacles’.

Collapsed building is seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Damaged buildings are seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

A wrecked bus is seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military, on March 26, 2022

Aftermath image of the Drama Theatre in the encircled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering on Wednesday March 16, 2022

Before and after: Satellite images show the Mariupol theatre before (top) and after (bottom) it was struck by a Russian missile on March 16. The death toll is believed to be at least 300

Authorities have said they fear some 300 civilians in Mariupol may have died in a Russian air strike on a theatre being used as a bomb shelter last week, with around 170,000 people still trapped in the besieged city.

The theatre was targeted despite the word ‘children’ being written large in Russian on the ground outside, so as to be visible to pilots. 

Officials in Mariupol have said the official death toll in the city is around 2,600 people, but Petr Andryushchenko – an adviser to the city government – told a Ukrainian radio station that the total could be as high as 20,000.

Speaking to Current Time radio station, he warned on March 14 that if evacuations of the city weren’t carried out: ‘This number will approach 350,000.’

The people in the city have dwindling supplies of food, water and power, and with encircling Russian forces slowly grinding the city to dust. 

One Mariupol resident who already left the city, 33-year-old Oksana Vynokurova, described leaving behind a hellscape.

‘I have escaped, but I have lost all my family. I have lost my house. I am desperate,’ she told AFP after reaching the western city of Lviv by train. ‘My mum is dead. I left my mother in the yard like a dog, because everybody’s shooting.’

A collapsed electrical post is seen in a damaged site as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022.

A wrecked tank is seen near a damaged building as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Russia’s highly censored media has broadcast aerial footage that appeared to be from Mariupol, showing a hellscape of charred and pocked apartment blocks spread across a singed and blackened wasteland.

Presenters blamed the devastation on Ukrainian ‘nationalists.’

The city is a treasured prize for Russia as it would enable a land bridge between Russian-annexed Crimea and regions already controlled by Russian proxy forces in eastern Ukraine.

While some civilians have been able to flee to Ukrainian-controlled territory, local officials said as many as 15,000 Mariupol residents have been forcibly deported to Russia

On Friday, the head of the U.N. human rights team in Ukraine said that monitors had received more information about mass graves in Mariupol, including one that appeared to hold 200 bodies.

‘We have got increasing information on mass graves that are there,’ Matilda Bogner told journalists by video link from Ukraine, saying some of the evidence came from satellite images.

The U.N. rights office, which has some 50 staff in the country, has so far counted 1,035 civilian deaths since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

But verification difficulties meant that toll included ‘very few’ from Mariupol, which has been under heavy bombardment for weeks, Bogner said.

‘The extent of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests that the principles of distinction, of proportionality, the rule on feasible precautions and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks have been violated,’ she said.

wrecked tank is seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on March 26, 2022.

Civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, on March 26, 2022

Civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

A Reuters journalist who reached a part of Mariupol held by Russian forces on Sunday saw several bodies lying by the road and a group of men digging graves in a patch of grass by the roadside.

Bogner’s team is probing alleged human rights violations, such as reports that Russian forces had shot and killed civilians in their cars as they were fleeing; dozens of cases of disappearances of Ukrainian officials and journalists; and the forced movement of civilians into Russian-held territory.

Russia, which has called its actions since Feb. 24 a ‘special operation’, has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine. Russian news agencies have said buses have carried several hundred people Moscow calls ‘refugees’ from Mariupol to Russia.

Bogdan said her team have also received reports of violations by Ukrainian forces including indiscriminate shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, and two alleged killings of civilians due to their perceived support for Russia.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly said that they have never targeted civilians, adding that the people who are in Donetsk and Luhansk are Ukrainians.

In the north of the country, battle lines near the capital Kyiv have been frozen for weeks with two main Russian armoured columns stuck northwest and east of the city.

The Russian defence ministry said its troops had seized a dug-in command centre in a Kyiv suburb and captured more than 60 Ukrainian servicemen. This could not be immediately verified.

The general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces, in a Facebook post, said Russia’s losses were such that Moscow was conducting ‘hidden mobilizations’ and taking battle tanks out of long-term storage.

A British intelligence report said Russian forces were relying on indiscriminate air and artillery bombardments rather than risk large-scale ground operations, a tactic the report said could limit Russian military casualties but would harm more civilians in Ukraine.

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