VLADIMIR Putin has unleashed a deadly special forces kill squad known as the “hunters” as he launches another desperate bid to take over Ukraine.
Each soldier has reportedly been given a “deck of cards” with photos of senior Ukrainian officials and security officers on them that Moscow wants dead. The Kremlin claims everyone on the deck has committed “crimes”.
Ukraine has been hit by two nights of heavy shelling[/caption]
Chechnya’s feared special forces the “hunters” heading for Ukraine[/caption]
The special forces have been pictured training in the forests of Ukraine[/caption]
Chechen special forces were pictured training in a Ukrainian forest as they took part in Islamic prayer rituals ahead of a potential deployment to the frontline.
The breakaway Russian province’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, 45, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, earlier visited his forces.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, said on Thursday he had been warned he was “target number one” for Russian special forces in Kyiv who wanted him dead.
He also said his family were on a “kill list” issued by Moscow for senior Ukrainian government officials.
The Chechen squad, known as the “hunters”, has allegedly been given an “order to kill” if they can’t detain their hitlist of Ukrainian politicians and officials.
They are believed to be from the South battalion of the Federal Guard Service, based in Chechnya.
On Thursday, Kadyrov met with Viktor Zolotov, Director of the Federal National Guard Service and another Putin ally.
Most read in News
KNOCK HIM OUT
Piers Morgan: Putin’s a vile, snivelling bully – but who’s going to stop him?
SICK & TWISTED
Russia 'bombs nursery' as pics show kindergarten 'surrounded by bodies'
Boy, 9, snatched outside school by two men before being dumped on green
Hero Ukrainian soldier 'blows himself up on bridge' to stop Russians crossing
TEARS FOR KYIV
BBC's Clive Myrie 'cries' during report – sparking huge praise from viewers
Ukraine claims 2,800 Russians killed or captured and 600 vehicles lost
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has progressed slower than expected, there are fears a furious Putin could unleash one of his deadliest weapons in a bid to destroy the Ukrainian resolve.
Thermobaric weapons, dubbed the “father of all bombs”, are high-powered explosives that are among the most powerful weapons ever created, apart from nuclear bombs.
They were developed by both the US and Soviet Union in the 1960s and are believed to cost around £12m each.
Also known as vacuum bombs, they use the atmosphere as part of the explosion, unleashing a devastating blast that can vaporize bodies and crush internal organs.
A single thermobaric blast can leave a crater up to 300m across, and – if used in dense urban environments – can kill hundreds.
They were previously used by the Russian army to horrifying effect during the Second Chechnyan War from 1999 to 2000 when the regional capital of Grozny was flattened by blasts, each powerful enough to raze a city block.
In September 2007, Russia detonated the largest thermobaric weapon ever made, creating an explosion equivalent to almost 40 tons.
The weapons were also used by the US on the Taliban in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
If [Russia’s army] don’t meet their timescale and objectives they would be indiscriminate in their use of violence
An unnamed Western official said: “My fear would be that if [Russia’s army] don’t meet their timescale and objectives they would be indiscriminate in their use of violence.
“They don’t adhere to the same principles of necessity and proportionality and rule of law that Western forces do.”
Russian special forces have reached the suburbs of Kyiv, while Russia’s heavy armour is around 50km away.
Western officials have warned Russia may kill President Zelenskyy and his ministers if they take the capital.
Read our Russia – Ukraine live blog for the very latest updates
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is a close ally of Putin[/caption]
Russia is preparing to unleash its deadly thermobaric weapons[/caption]
Putin wants to seize Kyiv this weekend[/caption]
In a somber address from a bunker in Kyiv, Zelenskyy warned his people that Friday night would be “the hardest” for his country so far, as he said: “The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”
He added that the Russian “enemy” would “go all in” tonight in a desperate bid to seize the capital.
Zelenskyy warned Russia would storm Kyiv on Friday night in a “vile, cruel and inhuman” fashion.
“This night will be the hardest. The enemy will go all in,” he said.
“We must withstand. The night will be very hard, but sunset will come.”
He went on: “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 Donbas, the cities of the south, special attention to Kyiv.”
In a stark statement, he said: “We can’t lose the capital.”
Zelenskyy says his family – including his wife Oleana and two children Aleksandra, 17, and Kiril, nine – have remained in Ukraine.
Ukrainian armed forces have put up a fierce defence of their country, and on Friday night, it was claimed they had shot down a Russian jet.
The Ilyushin Il-76 – capable of carrying up to 150 troops – was reportedly downed close to the city of Vasylkiv south of Kyiv.
Some 10,000 ordinary citizens of Kyiv have taken up arms, while the Interior Ministry has urged people to make their own Molotov cocktails if Russian troops enter the city.