Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 17, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)
BEIJING – The Russian military on Saturday announced full control of Severodonetsk, the administrative center of the Ukraine-controlled part of the eastern Lugansk region.
With the support of Russian troops, the forces of Lugansk launched "a successful offensive" and "completely liberated" the cities of Severodonetsk and Borovskoye as well as two settlements in Lugansk, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a briefing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia will transfer the nuclear-capable Iskander-M tactical missile systems to Belarus in the next few months to increase its defense capability
"The city is already completely occupied by the Russian Federation. They are trying to establish their order," Severodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk was cited by the Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency as saying.
Civilians, who had been sheltering at the Azot chemical plant, began to leave the plant, Stryuk said, adding that there was enough medicine in the city to give them emergency medical assistance.
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Also on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia will transfer the nuclear-capable Iskander-M tactical missile systems to Belarus in the next few months to increase its defense capability.
The system can use both ballistic and cruise missiles carrying conventional or nuclear warheads, Putin said during talks with visiting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Russia's St Petersburg.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and Germany signed an agreement on providing grant aid worth 1 billion euros (about $1.06 billion) for Kiev, the Ukrainian Finance Ministry said Saturday.
The deal was inked by Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko and German Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Friday, the ministry said in a statement.
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The funds will be directed to Ukraine's state budget to finance priority social and humanitarian expenditures during martial law rule.
Ukraine hopes to receive the aid in the near future, said Marchenko.