MOSCOW—On July 20, the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, decked himself out with automatic weapons and took to Russian state television to deliver a message to the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Kadyrov, who holds a formal position in the Russian government, was peeved that America had put him, his wife, and his daughters on a sanction list for human-rights abuses. On announcing the sanctions, Pompeo said that the U.S. had singled out Kadyrov because of “horrific reports” out of Chechnya “of abuses against LGBT persons, human rights defenders, members of the independent media and other persons who ran afoul” of him.
And so Kadyrov decided to call for revenge. In front of an audience of millions of Russians, he hefted a machine gun in each hand, and declared, “Pompeo, I take [up] the fight. What comes next will be more interesting.”