Vladimir Putin ally and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov encouraged Russia to use nuclear weapons on Ukraine Saturday, saying Moscow needs to take "more drastic measures" after being defeated in Lyman.
Kadyrov, who was appointed to govern the Russian republic of Chechnya in 2007, made the comments on Telegram after Putin announced Russia would be annexing four regions of Ukraine.
"Use every opportunity and every weapon to defend OUR territory. Donetsk is still being shelled. Residents of the joined 4 territories want to be protected," Kadyrov said.
Russian troops retreated from the strategic Donetsk city of Lyman a day after Putin announced the annexation of Donbas. The Russian defense ministry claimed the retreat was due to Ukraine using NATO intelligence and Western arms, but Ukrainian forces said they had completely encircled the Russian soldiers.
Kadyrov criticized the Russian army leadership in Lyman, saying they did not have the proper communication and ammunition, and that Russia's defeat was due to "army nepotism."
"More drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons," Kadyrov added, saying, "it is not necessary to take every decision with an eye on the Western American community."
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has also mentioned Russia's capability of using nuclear weapons on Ukraine "if necessary," and said NATO "would not directly interfere in the conflict even in this scenario," according to Reuters.
"The demagogues across the ocean and in Europe are not going to die in a nuclear apocalypse," Medvedev added.
The U.S. has not outlined specifically how the U.S. would respond in the face of a nuclear attack on Ukraine, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan saying, "we do not presently see indications about the imminent use of nuclear weapons," and that the U.S. has communicated the consequences to Russia.
"I have said before that we have had the opportunity to communicate directly to Russia a range of consequences for the use of nuclear weapons and the kinds of actions the United States would take. I have also said before that we are not going to telegraph these things publicly," Sullivan said.
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