Chechen chief Kadyrov says Russia will not make concessions to Ukraine

LONDON (Reuters) -Ramzan Kadyrov, the powerful head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, said on Wednesday that Moscow would make no concessions in its war in Ukraine, deviating from the official line and suggesting the Kremlin’s own negotiator was wrong.

Kadyrov, who has Chechen troops fighting in Ukraine as part of the Russian military operation, said in a commentary to Telegram that President Vladimir Putin would not just stop what he had started there.

He spoke after Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s chief negotiator, said after talks with Ukraine on Tuesday that Moscow is taking steps to de-escalate the conflict, including curbing military activity around Kiev.

“We will not make any concessions, it was … Medinsky who made a mistake, made an incorrect wording … And if you think that he (Putin) will stop what he started, exactly as it is presented to us today, this is not true,” Kadyrov said.

Kadyrov, who came to power in the predominantly Muslim southern Russian region of Chechnya in the wake of two brutal wars after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has often described himself as Putin’s “foot soldier.” Moscow has contributed huge sums of money to rebuild the region under him.

Though he wields excessive power and is one of the country’s most influential regional leaders, his statements that contradicted Medinsky by name were highly unusual on such a sensitive subject as war.

“This is, of course, a serious problem for Putin,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a political analyst, told Telegram.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Mark Trevelyan)

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