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Chechen leader meets Russia’s Putin, offers more troops for Ukraine

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(Reuters) – The leader of Russia’s Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov, said early on Thursday he had met President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin and offered to send more fighters to help Moscow in its more than two-year-old conflict in Ukraine.

Kadyrov, who has led his South Caucasus region as a Kremlin loyalist since 2007, posted a photo of himself with Putin and said he had discussed the region’s economic problems and prospects and invited the president to visit.

He said tens of thousands of “well trained and equipped fighters from the reserves” were prepared to fight for Russia in Ukraine if such an order were given.

A total of 43,500 troops had already served in Ukraine, including 18,000 volunteers, he said.

“I also transmitted the wishes of our people and invited our national leader to come visit the Chechen Republic,” Kadyrov wrote.

Kadyrov has repeatedly denied reports that he is unwell and posted pictures of himself exercising and conducting meetings.

Chechen separatists fought two wars against the Russian military after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, resulting in heavy destruction and casualties.

Putin has given Kadyrov wide leeway to run the mainly Muslim region as he chooses in return for keeping it stable and loyal.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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