VLADIMIR Putin’s humiliated troops have fled a major battleground in eastern Ukraine as the tyrant’s Chechen warlord said Russia should unleash nukes to retaliate.
Russia admitted its troops had abandoned their bastion of Lyman to avoid being encircled by Ukraine’s army.
“Allied forces were withdrawn from the settlement of… Lyman to more advantageous lines because of the creation of the threat of encirclement,” Russia’s Ministry of Defence said.
After the major new defeat, Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia’s Chechen region, said Moscow should now consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine.
In a chilling message, hy het geskryf: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”
Russia has the world’s largest atomic arsenal – including low-yield tactical nuclear weapons designed to be deployed against opposing armies.
Other top Putin allies, including former president Dmitry Medvedev, have suggested Russia may need to resort to nuclear weapons – but Kadyrov’s call was the most urgent and explicit.
It comes after hours of silence from Moscow after Kyiv said it had surrounded thousands of Russian troops in Lyman and its forces were inside the city.
In a video posted by the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, two grinning Ukrainian soldiers were seen taping the yellow-and-blue national flag on to the welcome sign at the city’s entrance.
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“Oktober 1. We’re unfurling our state flag and establishing it on our land. Lyman will be Ukraine,” one of the soldiers said, standing on the bonnet of a military vehicle.
The fall of Lyman is a major setback for Moscow after Putin declared four regions in Ukraine as part of Russia op Vrydag – including Donetsk, where Lyman is located.
In the most serious escalation since the start of the war, the Russian leader said he would defend the stolen lands “with all our strength and all our means”.
But Ukraine and its Western allies branded Russia’s move as illegal – and Kyiv vowed to continue liberating its land.
Russia used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the north of the Donetsk region.
And its fall is Ukraine’s biggest battlefield gain since a lightning counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.
A Ukrainian military spokesperson said the capture of Lyman would allow Kyiv to advance into the Luhansk region.
“Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbas,” hy het gesê.
But in an apparent desperate attempt to secure Moscow’s hold on the newly annexed territory, Ukraine said Russian forces kidnapped the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov.
It came just hours after Putin signed treaties to absorb Moscow-controlled Ukrainian territory into Russia – including the area around the nuclear plant – op Vrydag.
Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and took him to an undisclosed location.
The power plant repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the seven-month war.
Ukrainian workers continued running it after Russian troops seized the power station, and its last reactor was shut down in September as a precautionary measure amid ongoing fighting nearby.
In its heaviest barrage in weeks, Russia’s military pounded Ukrainian cities with missiles, rockets and drones on Friday, with one strike in the Zaporizhzhia regions capital killing 30 people and wounding 88.
In other fighting, four people were killed and six injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported.