Two years after Putin installed Kadyrov in 2009, his horses began racing in the Dubai World Cup. Posing with his prize animals, Kadyrov began to cultivate a compassionate image with leaders throughout the Middle East, all the while extending little compassion to his own people.
Business has been another avenue. In May last year, the UAE-funded Sheikh Zayed Fund opened in Grozny, pledging $300 million for small and medium business enterprises in the republic for a decade. Kadyrov has, in turn, been funding humanitarian ventures in the Muslim world. Most notable is the reconstruction of Syria’s historic Umayyad Mosque, destroyed in Aleppo in 2013.
Some of those humanitarian efforts, however, function as fronts for intelligence operations. In Syria, Moscow has predominantly used Muslim Chechens as part of Russia’s military police to keep law and order in areas retaken by Syrian government forces.