VLADIMIR Putin has unleashed a deadly special forces unit known as the “hunters” as he makes another desperate attempt to take over Ukraine.
Each soldier was reportedly given a “deck of cards” with photographs of high-ranking Ukrainian officials and security personnel whom Moscow wants to kill. The Kremlin claims that everyone on deck committed “crimes.”
Chechen special forces train in a Ukrainian forest, taking part in Islamic prayer rites before being sent to the front line.
The leader of the self-proclaimed Russian province, Ramzan Kadyrov, 45, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, had previously visited his troops.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 44, said on Thursday he had been warned that he was the “number one target” for Russian special forces in Kyiv who want him dead.
He also said that his family was on a “list of the dead” compiled by Moscow for high-ranking Ukrainian government officials.
The Chechen detachment, known as the “hunters”, allegedly received an “order to kill” if they could not hold up their hit list of Ukrainian politicians and officials.
Presumably, they are from the “South” battalion of the Federal Security Service, based in Chechnya.
On Thursday, Kadyrov met with Viktor Zolotov, director of the Federal National Guard Service and another Putin ally.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine progresses more slowly than expected, there are fears that an enraged Putin could unleash one of his deadliest weapons in an attempt to shatter Ukraine’s resolve.
Nicknamed the “father of all bombs”, the thermobaric weapon is a high-yield explosive that is one of the most powerful weapons ever made, aside from nuclear bombs.
They were developed by both the US and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and are believed to cost around £12 million each.
Also known as vacuum bombs, they use the atmosphere as part of an explosion, causing a devastating explosion that can vaporize bodies and crush internal organs.
One thermobaric explosion can leave a crater up to 300 m in diameter, and when used in dense urban areas, it can kill hundreds of people.
They were previously used by the Russian army to horrendous effect during the Second Chechen War from 1999 to 2000, when the region’s capital, Grozny, was devastated by explosions each powerful enough to flatten a city block.
In September 2007, Russia detonated the most powerful thermobaric munition ever created, creating an explosion equivalent to almost 40 tons.
This weapon was also used by the US against the Taliban in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
If [Russia’s army] do not fit their time frame and goals, they will be indiscriminate in their use of violence
An unnamed Western official said: “I’m afraid that if [Russia’s army] do not fit their time frame and goals, they will be indiscriminate in their use of violence.
“They do not adhere to the same principles of necessity, proportionality and the rule of law as Western powers.”
Russian special forces have reached the suburbs of Kyiv, and Russian heavy equipment is about 50 km away.
Western officials have warned that Russia could kill President Zelensky and his ministers if they take the capital.
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In a grim address from a bunker in Kyiv, Zelenskiy warned his people that Friday night would be “the hardest” for his country, as he said, “Ukraine’s fate is being decided right now.”
He added that tonight the Russian “enemy” would go for broke in a desperate attempt to capture the capital.
Zelenskiy warned that Russia would storm Kyiv on Friday night in a “despicable, cruel and inhumane” way.
“This night will be the hardest. The enemy will go for broke,” he said.
“We must endure. The night will be very difficult, but the sunset will come.”
He continued, “This night will be harder than the day. Many cities of our state are under attack: Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, our boys and girls in the Donbass, the cities of the south, special attention to Kiev.”
In a blunt statement, he said, “We cannot lose the capital.”
Zelenskiy says his family, including his wife Oleana and two children Oleksandra, 17, and Kirill, nine, have remained in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian armed forces fiercely defended their country, and on Friday evening it was claimed that they shot down a Russian plane.
An Ilyushin Il-76 capable of carrying up to 150 troops was reportedly shot down near the town of Vasilkov, south of Kyiv.
About 10,000 ordinary Kievans took up arms, and the Interior Ministry urged people to make their own Molotov cocktails if Russian troops entered the city.