Chechnya's regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks in front of a portrait of his father Akhmad Kadyrov, the Chechen president who was assassinated in a 2004 bomb blast, during a meeting in Grozny, Russia, Friday, May 10, 2019.

Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov said on Sunday that an upcoming Russian military offensive will not only "liberate" cities in Ukraine's Donbas region, but will also target the capital city of Kyiv and "all other cities."

The comments by the leader of Russia's republic of Chechnya were made in a video posted to the social media platform Telegram, in which Kadyrov, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's top strongmen, spoke from his office with maps and satellite images scattered across his desk.

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"There will be an offensive ... not only on Mariupol, but also on other places, cities, and villages," Kadyrov said in a video posted on Telegram.

"Luhansk and Donetsk — we will fully liberate in the first place ... and then take Kyiv and all other cities."

The Pentagon announced last week that it believes Russian forces around Kyiv and Chernihiv have "completed their withdrawal from the area," moving into Belarus to "refit and resupply."

However, Kadyrov insisted that Russian-back forces will not be taking a step back despite the withdrawal.

"I assure you: not one step will be taken back," Kadyrov said.

Kadyrov, promoted by Putin last month to lieutenant general of the Russian army, claims to have made at least two trips to Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February.

In March, the 45-year-old Chechen leader was reportedly in the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol to boost the morale of Russian combat forces. The Chechen leader claimed he traveled with a small delegation from his republic to deliver new uniforms and humanitarian aid to troops and to "get acquainted with the detailed action plan" of Russian forces in the city.

During the war's third week, also in March, Kadyrov posted a Telegram video of himself reportedly from Hostomel, an airfield near Kyiv captured by Russia early in the invasion.

Kadyrov, a Putin loyalist, posts frequently on Telegram, and he has not been shy with his criticism of other Kremlin officials since the start of the war.

Kadyrov released a video in March where he complained that Russia's lead negotiator in talks with Ukraine was making too many compromises.

Kadyrov has also lambasted Putin's chief press officer, Dmitry Peskov, for Peskov's statements defending a Russian TV host who had criticized the invasion of Ukraine.

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The Chechen strongman also complained that Peskov did not offer congratulations on his military promotion.

Kadyrov also warned SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in March after the business tycoon challenged Putin to a fight, saying that the Russian leader "will look unsportsmanlike when he beats the hell out of you, a much weaker opponent."

Original Location: 'There will be an offensive': Ramzan Kadyrov says Russian forces will take Kyiv

 

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