Thu, 11 Aug 2022

Russia will deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Read about the day's events as they unfolded on our liveblog. All times Paris time (GMT+2).

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

9:59pm: Zelensky says Ukraine will win back Severodonetsk and other cities

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday said Ukraine would win back all the cities it had lost to Russia, including Severodonetsk, which finally fell to Moscow's forces earlier in the day.

In a late-night video address, he also said Ukraine had been hit by 45 Russian missiles and rockets over the previous 24 hours, which he described as a cynical attempt to break his people's spirits.

6:29pm: Putin says aims to enable Belarus air force to carry nuclear weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday offered to upgrade Belarus' warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons, amid soaring tensions with the West over Ukraine.

"Many Su-25 (aircrafts) are in service with the Belarusian military. They could be upgraded in an appropriate way. This modernisation should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this," Putin said after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko asked him to "adapt" the planes in a televised interview.

4:43pm: Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden's NATO bid, says presidency

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signalled on Saturday that no progress had been made in Sweden's bid to join NATO, urging Stockholm to take "concrete actions" to meet Ankara's concerns, his office said.

In a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan reiterated that "Sweden should take steps regarding such fundamental matters as combatting terrorism", the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Turkey "wanted to see binding commitments on these issues together with concrete and clear action," he added.

4:19pm: Russian forces occupy all of Ukraine's Severodonetsk, says mayor

Ukraine's Severodonetsk was "fully occupied" by the Russian army, its mayor said on Saturday, after weeks of fighting over the key eastern city.

"The city has been fully occupied by the Russians," mayor Oleksandr Striuk said.

The Ukrainian army on Friday said it would withdraw its forces from the city of some 100,000 inhabitants before the war to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.

3:03pm: Street clashes in key Ukraine city Lysychansk, say pro-Russian separatists

Russian troops and allies entered Lysychansk on Saturday and street fighting is underway in the eastern Ukrainian city which neighbours its strategic twin Severodonetsk, pro-Moscow separatists said.

"The people's militia of the Lugansk People's Republic and the Russian army have entered the city of Lysychansk," a representative for pro-Russian separatists, Andrei Marochko, said on Telegram.

"Street fighting is currently taking place," he added.

The claim, which could not be independently verified, comes after Ukrainian forces were ordered to withdraw from Severodonetsk, a key city in the eastern Donbas region that Russia is on the verge of conquering.

1:11pm: Mayor says Ukrainian troops have 'almost left' Severodonetsk

The mayor of Ukraine's Sievierodonetsk said Ukrainian troops had "almost left" the strategic frontline city after holding out for weeks against advancing Russian forces.

Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk did not confirm whether a full withdrawal was underway. On Friday, regional authorities said Ukraine was set to pull back its troops there.

"Unfortunately, they have almost left the city," Stryuk said on national television.

12:47pm: Ukraine reports 'massive bombardment' from Belarus

Ukraine said it came under "massive bombardment" Saturday from neighbouring Belarus, a Russian ally not officially involved in the conflict, the day after announcing a retreat from the strategic city of Severodonetsk.

Twenty rockets targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine's northern military command said in a statement, adding that infrastructure was hit, but no casualties had yet been reported. Belarus has provided logistic support to Moscow since the February 24 invasion, particularly in the first few weeks, and like Russia has been targeted by Western sanctions - but is officially not involved in the conflict.

"Today's strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine," the Ukrainian intelligence service said. The strikes came ahead of a planned meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarussian counterpart and close ally Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg on Saturday.

12:29pm: Russian troops kill 'up to 80' Polish fighters in Ukraine, says Moscow

Russia said on Saturday its troops have killed "up to 80" Polish fighters in "precision strikes" in eastern Ukraine.

"Up to 80 Polish mercenaries, 20 armoured combat vehicles and eight Grad multiple rocket launchers were destroyed in precision strikes on the Megatex zinc factory in Konstantinovka" in the Donetsk region, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement, which could not be independently verified.

The region, claimed by Russia, has been the theatre of combat since Moscow began its offensive in Ukraine in late February.

The Russian ministry did not state when the strikes took place. In its statement, the ministry added that "more than 300 Ukrainian troops and foreign mercenaries as well as 35 heavy weapons were destroyed in the space of a day in Mykolaiv," a Black Sea city in southern Ukraine.

9:54am: Russian missiles rain down on military sites across Ukraine, say local officials

Dozens of Russian missiles rained down on military facilities in western and northern Ukraine on Saturday, local officials said, as Europe's biggest land conflict since World War Two entered its fifth month.

The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine, Maxim Kozytskyi, said in a video posted online that six missiles were fired from the Black Sea at the Yavoriv base, with four hitting the base and two being intercepted and destroyed before hitting their target.

Vitaliy Bunechko, governor of the Zhytomyr region in the north of the country, said strikes on a military target killed at least one soldier.

"Nearly 30 missiles were launched at one military infrastructure facility very near to the city of Zhytomyr," said Bunechko, adding that nearly 10 missiles had been intercepted and destroyed.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)

Originally published on France24

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