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Russia takes full control of Kherson in Ukraine as war enters 20th day

This grab, taken from a handout footage released by the Russian Defense Ministry on March 12, 2022, shows Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov holding a briefing. (By AFP)

Russia’s Defense Ministry says its troops have taken control of Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson as the Russian military campaign enters its 20th day.

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation have taken full control of all the territory of Kherson region,” the ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said at a briefing on Tuesday, without further elaboration.

The city of Kherson, the provincial capital of nearly 250,000 people, was the first key urban center to be captured by Russian troops after Moscow launched a military campaign against Ukraine on February 24.

The spokesman also said that the Russian troops seized 10 American-made Javelin anti-tank missile systems and a number of other weapons provided to Ukraine by Western countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” on February 24, aimed at the “demilitarization” of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, largely populated by ethnic Russians, in eastern Ukraine. In 2014, the two regions – collectively known as the Donbass – declared themselves new republics, refusing to recognize Ukraine’s Western-backed government.

Beijing denies US claim that Russia sought China military aid

Several US officials claimed that Moscow had asked China for military equipment after it launched the operation in Ukraine. The claims have been denied by the Kremlin.

Beijing also rejected the claims on Tuesday, noting that Washington has been spreading “malicious disinformation” that risked escalating the situation.

“The US has repeatedly spread malicious disinformation against China on the Ukraine issue,” the Chinese embassy in London told Reuters in a statement, noting that “China has been playing a constructive role in promoting peace talks.”

“The top priority now is to ease the situation, instead of adding fuel to the fire, and work for diplomatic settlement rather than further escalate the situation,” the statement added.

Three EU leaders visiting Ukraine in show of support

Amid the US claims, the prime ministers of three member countries of the European Union headed to Ukraine to show support for the country on behalf of the bloc.

The premiers of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia were traveling to Kiev by train on Tuesday.

Michal Dwoczyk, a top aide to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, said the trio had crossed the Polish-Ukraine border by train after 8 am (0700 GMT), adding that the idea of the trip was agreed at an EU leaders' summit in France last week.

“The purpose of the visit is to confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a statement also released by the Polish government.

The statement said that the visit also aims to “present a broad package of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians.”

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