A top ally of besieged Russian leader Vladimir Putin wants Moscow to go scorched earth on Ukraine. Literally. Stopping just short of calling for a nuclear holocaust, Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic and a lieutenant general in the Russian military, urged Putin to use “low-yield nuclear weapons” on Ukraine after the Kremlin’s latest defeat.
The latest setback for Russian forces came in Donetsk Oblast, one day after Putin’s illegal annexation of the partially occupied Ukrainian region. In a move universally condemned by the international community, Putin formalized the annexation of four Ukrainian oblasts (administrative divisions comparable to a U.S. state). The oblasts, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk are located primarily in the Donbas, a heavily industrialized area with a significant Russian ethnic minority. But less than 24 hours after his Hitleresque speech, 5,000 of Putin’s troops had to break out and retreat from the strategic town of Lyman, in north central Donetsk. The withdrawal to a “more advantageous” frontline was necessary, according to Russian state propaganda, because the city had become encircled by Ukraine.
Putin warned in his address that Russia will view an attack on any of the four oblasts as an attack on Russia and that the millions of Ukrainians living there would be Russian citizens “forever.”