Adam Delimkhanov was reportedly wounded as Kyiv’s forces push into Russian-occupied territory.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on Tuesday said his brother-in-law was not missing in action, but the earlier claim that he’d disappeared in Ukraine was designed to troll the media.
In an initial statement issued on Telegram, Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Chechnya region, said that he has lost communication with his “brother-in-law,” Adam Delimkhanov, after Ukraine hit a series of Russian positions as Kyiv’s forces step up their counteroffensive in the south and east of the country.
“I have no way of contacting Adam Delimkhanov. He has not been in touch,” Kadyrov wrote. “I ask Ukrainian intelligence to provide information on the exact locations and positions that have been struck so that I can find my dear brother-in-law.”
(A relative of Kadyrov’s, Delimkhanov has also been identified as his cousin despite varying descriptions from the strongman himself.
However, in a second message published later Tuesday, Kadyrov wrote that Delimkhanov is “alive and well.”
“I knew this from the start,” Kadyrov wrote, claiming the “hoax” was designed to embarrass earlier Ukrainian reports that his relative had been killed.
Zvezda, a television channel operated by Russia’s defense ministry, previously reported Delimkhanov was wounded in Ukraine.
Delimkhanov commands troops from the North Caucasus branch of Rosgvardia, Russia’s national guard, who have been heavily involved in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The 53-year-old also serves as a member of Russia’s parliament, for Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party, having previously fought alongside Chechen separatists in a war that followed the Soviet Union’s collapse.
However, Kyiv’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, said that progress was slow and the country’s troops are fighting for every meter of land. “The enemy is doing everything to keep the captured positions,” she said.