Police representatives from the United States and Canada took part in the Swat Challenge competition in Dubai, competing, among others, with Chechen fighters accused of violating human rights and war crimes in Ukraine – writes “The Guardian” on Sunday. – The US participation legitimized this event, but more importantly, it was a gift to Grozny and Moscow – said Professor Mark Galeotti, a specialist dealing with security and organized crime in Russia.
As the British daily “The Guardian” writes on Sunday, the Swat Challenge competition was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the beginning of February. On the event’s website, Dubai Police states that the aim of the tournament was to “foster the exchange of techniques and tactical skills between Swat teams from different countries” and “establish cooperation among all Swat teams at a global level.”
87 teams from 48 countries were to take part in the Swat Challenge. The competition consisted of a variety of mock tactical challenges, including assaults, rescues and target practice. The participants included men who belonged to a special regiment of the Chechen police named after Akhmat Kadyrov – a group that Ukrainian officials say was responsible for some of the worst atrocities during Russia’s aggression against the country.
As the Guardian notes, “the invasion of Ukraine has turned Russia into a pariah state in the West, with many Russian sports teams and cultural figures banned from world competitions. But last week in Dubai, Chechen forces competed with elite U.S. police forces and Canada, raising questions among security experts and human rights observers about why Western security entities are fighting alongside an entity accused of war crimes in Ukraine.”
Police representatives from New York and San Antonio, Texas, and a special unit from… took part in the competition Canada.
“A gift for Moscow”
Professor Mark Galeotti, a specialist dealing with security and organized crime in Russia comments: – I do not know of similar cases of the American police participating in events alongside teams from Russia, not to mention a unit from Chechnya operating in Ukraine. I would expect US pressure on police forces to voluntarily withdraw.
– The US participation legitimized this event, but more importantly, it was a gift to Grozny (the capital of Chechnya – ed.) and Moscow. United States “At best they look incompetent and at worst they look willing to disregard their own rules,” he added.
One of the Guardian’s sources with knowledge of the American security services described the participation of American special forces in events alongside the Chechen group as “embarrassing.” “It’s embarrassing considering the accusations of what the Akhmat unit did,” the source said.
The unit played a significant role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Special forces named after Akhmat Kadyrov, named after the father of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, played a significant role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They were among the units taking part in the brutal siege of Mariupol, during which the targets included, among others, a maternity hospital, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people became a symbol of the Ukrainian sacrifice suffered during the war with Russia.
In the unit’s homeland, Chechnya, special police forces have long been accused of violations human rightsincluding kidnappings, fake disappearances, torture and murder, as well as pogroms against communities LGBT+. “Akhmat” is headed by Zamid Khalayev, one of Kadyrov’s top security officials. Khalaev is under US sanctions for the siege of Mariupol and “export of Ukrainian children to camps in the Republic of Chechnya.”
The Chechen unit is not the only controversial unit that took part in this year’s tournament. Also competing was the “Almaz” anti-terrorist unit – a special unit of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs, widely accused of brutally suppressing anti-government protests in the country in 2020-2021 after fake elections kept Alyaksandr Lukashenko in power.
Police with ‘competitive spirit, similar to the Olympics’
Police units from New York and Canada did not respond to the British daily’s questions about whether they were aware of the past of the Chechen participants in the competition.
In a written response, San Antonio police said: “Each participating country has its own geopolitical history and this is not taken into account by the participating teams. The purpose of such events is to allow the best in the world to showcase their skills in a spirit of competition, similar to the Olympics.” “Olympic Games”.
In a post on X, the NYPD thanked the Dubai Police for inviting them to compete, writing: “In a friendly competition, our NYPD Specialops emergency services team took part in the Swat Challenge and were able to showcase their training and techniques.”
The competition attracts prizes
The competition appears to lure participants by covering expenses and offering generous payments to winners, writes The Guardian. According to Khaleej Times, a Dubai-based news website, the tournament awarded cash prizes worth a total of PLN 260,000. dollars.
There were also prizes for daily challenges, one of which was won by Kadyrov’s men. They won five thousand dollars for taking first place in the “Tower Event”, where, according to the organizers, they showed “an unparalleled display of agility, strength and tactical skill.”
It is unclear whether the prize money is shared among team members or goes directly to the police, although given that Kadyrov rules Chechnya as his personal fiefdom, experts suggest he will likely profit directly from the tournament, writes the British daily.
Main photo source: Waleed Zein/AA/ABACA/Abaca/East News