More than 20,000 servicemen took part in a special formation drill to mark Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday, at the military base in Khankala, Grozny on Friday, October 7. During the event, Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, said that 10,000 Chechen fighters were already involved in the Donbass operation. « If necessary, another 70,000 are ready to join them, » Kadyrov stated on his Telegram channel. Moscow launched the military offensive on Ukraine in late February after recognising the independence of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR). On September 30, Putin agreed to sign documents allowing the accession of the LPR and DPR, as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye, to the Russian Federation. According to Moscow, the move followed referenda in which people living in those areas exercised their right to self-determination and requested to join Russia. Ukraine and its international allies condemned the move, calling it an annexation of Kiev’s sovereign territory.