The Russian Defence Ministry has announced that it has signed a contract with the Akhmat group of Chechen special forces, which has been involved in the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The contract is part of a new law that requires all volunteer units to register with the ministry and follow its rules.

The move comes after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group of private mercenaries, rejected such a contract and accused the ministry of incompetence.

The Akhmat group, which is loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, has said that it has sent thousands of volunteers to Ukraine since the conflict began in 2022.

The group claims to be fighting for the protection of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, but critics say it is serving Moscow’s interests and violating human rights.

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