October 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Part of the seized Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is controlled by armed Chechen forces, a Ukrainian military organization said Sunday.

The forces in question, the so-called Special Rapid Response Unit Akhmat, are led by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin: Chechen Ramzan Kadyrov.

“It is known that a part of the station has recently been controlled by a Kadyrov gang … which placed equipment and weapons directly in turbine halls #1 and #2,” the Center of National Resistance said in a statement.

The center is a military organization designed to support and coordinate Ukrainian troops.

On Wednesday, the Chechen leader Kadyrov wrote in a Telegram post that his unit is in Enerhodar, a city adjacent to the Zaporizhzhia plant. He accused Ukrainians of firing “indiscriminately at the coastline of Enerhodar, its industrial area and the Zaporizhzhia NPP.” 

Remember: Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear complex of its kind in Europe, was seized by Russian forces at the start of the war.

In its statement, the Center of National Resistance also claimed that “Russia is trying to connect the Zaporizhzhia NPP to its power system as soon as possible.”

“The occupiers are hastily carrying out measures to convert the spent nuclear fuel storage system at the ZNPP to Russian standards, as well as adapting all nuclear reactors of the ZNPP to use Russian fuel assemblies,” the Center wrote.

CNN cannot independently verify these claims.

More context: The Chechen Republic is a region in Russia’s north Caucasus.

Russian forces fought a brutal war for control of the territory in the mid-1990s and the early 2000s. Kadyrov was once a guerrilla who fought against Russia before switching sides.

During the Second Chechen War, which coincided with the rise of Putin, Kadyrov helped Moscow wrest control of the Chechen Republic from separatist rebels.

Kadyrov has been accused by international and independent observers of gross human rights violations in his home territory and beyond. He leads sizeable paramilitary forces that – while formally a part of Russian security structures – have personal loyalty to him.

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