From the Guardian Sunday, the headline says it all:
The invasion of Ukraine has made Russia a pariah state in the west, with many Russian sports teams and cultural figures banned from participation in global competitions.
But in Dubai last week, Chechen forces were competing against elite police squads from the US and Canada, raising questions among security experts and human rights observers about why western security groups were taking part in a contest alongside a unit accused of war crimes in Ukraine.
Hosted by the Dubai police over the last week, the 5th UAE Swat Challenge bills itself as the Olympics for elite law enforcement agencies and aims to “foster cooperation and exchange of tactical techniques and skills” among international police teams, according to the event’s website.
Among this year’s participants were two US law enforcement agencies, the NYPD emergency service unit, New York’s select police unit, and the San Antonio police department (SAPD) from Texas. From Canada, the London emergency response unit (LU) participated.
Prof Mark Galeotti, a specialist on Russian security affairs and organised crime, said: “I don’t know of any similar cases of US police participation in events alongside teams from Russia, let alone a unit from Chechnya active in Ukraine. I would have expected US pressure on the police forces to voluntarily pull out.”
One source with knowledge of US security services said it was “embarrassing” for US special units to participate in events alongside the Chechen group. “Obviously it is bad for US law enforcement to be at the same events,” the source said. “This is embarrassing optics-wise given accusations about what Akhmat units did.”
The Akhmat Kadyrov special forces, which are named after the Chechen president’s father, Akhmad, have played a prominent role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Galeotti said: “US participation legitimised the event but far more importantly was a gift to Grozny (and Moscow). The USA ends up looking incompetent at best, downright eager to flout its own rules at worst.”