The Russian military is facing an unexpected situation that brought equal measures of protest and ridicule from fighters in the war against Ukraine. In a bid to tighten up discipline in the ranks, the Commander of Russian forces in Ukraine has ordered all men to cut their facial hair.
However, not all believe Lieutenant General Viktor Sobolev’s new measures are relevant or necessary, with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) saying the military leader is “increasingly seen as out of touch and focused on presentation over substance.”
READ MORE about Ramzan Kadyrov in Ukraine.
The move sparked a dustup with Russia’s Chechen and mercenary allies – many bearded – accusing Lt Gen Sobolev’s order as “a clear provocation” and “stupid nonsense.”
Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in a Telegram post, which Forces News roughly translated, that Lt Gen Sobolev “has a lot of free time in the service, since he has nothing to do and rereads the charter.”
“I can imagine how surprised our fighters from the frontline, mobilized, volunteers – both bearded and shaved,” he said.
“They did not even suspect that a dangerous enemy lurked in their ranks – facial hair!”
The post sarcastically adds: “After all, in every trench, there is a faucet with hot water, shaving foam is given out in the morning at the bath building, razors were given out a month in advance.”
It was not “as if there are no problems on the frontline,” Kadyrov said. “What kind of stupid nonsense is this?”
The Chechen strongman added: “It will be more useful for generals to generate successful and feasible ideas, for example, strategic ones, in order to minimize losses among the military and civilian population. Sobolev knows perfectly well who wears a beard and why on the frontlines.”
Chechnya’s dominant religion is Islam, with a 95.87% Muslim population.
Mr Kadyrov said he is “seriously sure that this is a clear provocation, which is designed to extinguish the morale of the soldiers who are in a holy war for the sake of the Almighty.”
“And stop picking on the fighters for any reason,” he said, before calling on the leader of Russia’s lower house of political assembly to “not in service, but in friendship: send the guardians of the charter to the frontline”.
With reporting by Forces Net.