Russian media is announcing that the airbase in Hmeimim, Syria, used by Russian forces will be guarded by two regiments made up of ethnic Chechens. The two regiments, nicknamed “East” and “West” are drawn from special forces or “spetznaz” units that fought on the side of Russia in the Chechen conflict in the late 1990’s as well as the Georgian campaign in 2008 and other engagements around Southern Russia and the Middle East.
The units have undergone the necessary training to be reconstituted as paramilitary police and anti-terror units well suited to counter-terrorism operations. Since Chechens are Sunni Muslims, it is felt that they will be a good cultural fit for the local population around the airbase.
The units are expected to be operational before the end of the year and the Russian Command is hopeful that the well-deserved fearsome reputation of Chechen warriors across the Middle East will go a long way to prevent any hostile actions against the airbase.
It is perhaps well worth noting that the State of Israel has a small Chechen diaspora consisting of two villages populated by Chechens that relocated to Ottoman-era Palestine in the second half of the 19th century. While most Muslims in Israel are not subject to military draft and do not serve in the Israel Defense Force, the Israeli Chechens normally volunteer to enlist and maintain their reputation as fierce front-line warriors.