Chechens fighting for Ukraine see chance to 'free their homeland'.

SPEAKING amid the boom of artillery on Ukraine's frontlines, the masked soldier said his ultimate goal was to liberate a land farther east - the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Maga, his nom-de-guerre, is part of a unit of Chechen fighters helping Ukraine battle Russian troops in the besieged city of Bakhmut.

Many of his kinsmen also famously support the other side - powerful Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov calls himself Russian President Vladimir Putin's "foot soldier" and sent members of his personal army to Ukraine to fight for the Russians.

Kadyrov has also been a vocal critic of Russia's performance in the conflict so far and said Moscow should consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine, setting alarm bells ringing in the West.

For Chechens under Ukrainian military command, the hope is that a victory in the war could spark political crisis in Russia and, with it, the downfall of Kadyrov, who some governments including the United States have accused of human rights abuses.

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