Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Russian region of Chechnya, said in an interview aired on Monday that Russia would achieve its goals in Ukraine by the end of the year and it would be wrong to negotiate with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Kadyrov’s forces have played a prominent role in the war in Ukraine since Russia invaded almost a year ago, and he has forged an informal alliance with the increasingly prominent Wagner militia chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and other nationalist hardliners who back the war.
In an interview broadcast on state television’s flagship Rossiya-1 channel, he said Russia had the forces to take the capital Kyiv – from which it was driven back in the early weeks of the war – and that it needed to capture Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv and its main port, Odesa.
“I believe that, by the end of the year, we will 100% complete the task set for us today,” Kadyrov said.
With neither side prepared for concessions, there has appeared to be little prospect of peace talks since the early months of the war.
Nevertheless, Kadyrov told interviewer Olga Skabeyeva, who hosts a stridently pro-war chat show: “If we sit down at the negotiating table with Zelenskiy, yes, I think that’s wrong.”
Kadyrov is a former Chechen separatist fighter who switched sides in the late 1990s, joining the pro-Russian administration in the restive Caucasus region along with his wider family.
His father was assassinated by pro-independence militants in 2004, and Russian President Vladimir Putin personally installed him as leader of Chechnya in 2007.