The Russian military extended its grip on territory in eastern Ukraine as it seeks to cut supply lines and encircle frontline Ukrainian forces, while the Ukrainian military announced Thursday the arrival of powerful U.S. multiple-launch rocket systems it hopes will offer a battlefield advantage.

Ukrainian forces withdrew from some areas near the city of Lysychansk to avoid being surrounded as Russians sent in reinforcements and concentrated their firepower in the area, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. The city is located in Luhansk province, a major battlefield in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian forces took control of the villages of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka, and were trying to capture Syrotyne, a settlement outside the province’s administrative center, Sievierodonetsk. Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press that the Russians were “burning everything out” in their offensive to encircle Ukraine’s fighters.

“The Russians are advancing without trying to spare the ammunition or troops, and they aren’t running out of either,” Haidai said. “They have an edge in heavy artillery and the number of troops.”

After repeated requests to its Western allies for heavier weaponry to counter Russia’s edge in firepower, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said a response had arrived in the form of the medium-range American rocket launchers.

Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them,” Reznikov tweeted, thanking the U.S. for “these powerful tools.”

A U.S. defense official confirmed Wednesday that all four of the promised High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, were in the hands of Ukrainian forces but said it was not clear if they have been used yet.

The U.S. approved providing the precision-guided systems at the end of May, and once they were in the region, Ukraine’s forces needed about three weeks of training to operate them. The rockets can travel about 45 miles (70 kilometers).

The U.S. will send an addition $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including four more of the medium-range rocket systems, ammunition and other supplies, U.S. officials announced Thursday.

Analysts said the advanced systems would give Ukrainian forces greater precision in hitting Russian targets. Mykola Sunhurovsky of the Razumkov Center, a Kyiv-based think tank, said the HIMARS have a longer range, more precision and higher rate of fire compared with similar Soviet-designed systems that Russia and Ukraine have used during the four-month war.

When NATO leaders convene in Madrid on June 28-30 they are due to revamp the alliance’s strategic concept, which outlines its main security tasks and challenges but has not been revised since 2010.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has been pushing for NATO to broaden its scope to help deal with non-military threats such as “the political use of energy resources and illegal immigration” in Africa.

“The threats are as much from the southern flank as from the eastern flank,” he told a Madrid news conference on Wednesday.

Madrid is also concerned about lawlessness and violent Islamist movements in the Sahel region, a vast territory stretching across the south of the Sahara Desert.

“We have this war in Europe, but the situation in Africa is really worrying,” said Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles.

The issue is particularly acute for Spain, a main gateway into Europe for irregular migration from Africa and a country which relies on Algeria for gas supplies.

Last year Morocco allowed thousands of migrants to enter Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta during a diplomatic crisis over the disputed Western Sahara, prompting Madrid to accuse Rabat of “blackmail”.

The fall of Sievierodonetsk, following weeks of some of the war’s bloodiest fighting, is the biggest defeat for Ukraine since it lost control of the southern port of Mariupol in May.

Ukraine called its retreat from the city a “tactical withdrawal” to fight from higher ground in Lysychansk on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river. Pro-Russian separatists said Moscow’s forces were now attacking Lysychansk.

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The time is right to snap up “bargains” in the financial markets following the widespread sell-off, according to Howard Marks, one of the world’s most formidable distressed debt investors. “Today I am starting to behave aggressively,” the founder and co-chair of Oaktree Capital, said in an interview. “Everything we deal in is significantly cheaper than it was six or 12 months ago,” he added, highlighting drops in the prices of high-yield bonds, leveraged loans, mortgage-backed securities and collateralised loan obligations. The main gauge used to measure junk US corporate debt has registered a loss of just under 13 per cent this year, its largest since the financial crisis in 2008, according to Ice Data Services. Prices of loans offered to lowly rated corporate borrowers have fallen more than 5 per cent and are trading on average at 93.27 cents on the dollar, levels last seen in November 2020 just before Covid-19 vaccine breakthroughs were reported, data from S&P and the Loan Syndications and Trading Association showed. Marks said Los Angeles-based Oaktree did not make investment decisions based on macro forecasts — such as how high inflation would rise or whether there would be a recession — nor try to time the market. “I think the idea of waiting for the bottom is a terrible idea,” he said. Assets could get cheaper than current valuations “in which case we’ll buy more”. Marks, 76, co-founded Oaktree in 1995 with a strategy of investing in “good companies with bad balance sheets” and has built the company into a $164bn powerhouse of debt investing. The company does not publicly disclose its financial performance. His career has been founded on making big bets when and where others are unwilling to do so, and he sets out his investment views in a popular series of memos, whose regular readers include Warren Buffett. “We’re more aggressive if we think . . . bargains are rife,” he said. “And we are more defensive if we think the market is elevated and investor behaviour is imprudent.” Over the past year, Marks has advocated positioning on the more defensive side. “I thought asset prices were reasonable given where interest rates were, but I thought interest rates would go up, which meant prices would go down.” Financial markets have sold off as the Federal Reserve has begun to sharply raise interest rates, piling pressure on treasurers across the globe. Borrowing costs have shot higher, with yields on highly rated corporate debt in the US averaging 4.72 per cent this week, double the level at the end of 2021. For riskier groups rated junk by the major credit rating agencies, yields are now above 8.5 per cent, up from 4.32 per cent. Oaktree, which sold itself to Canadian infrastructure group Brookfield at a near $8bn valuation in 2019, is one of the oldest specialists in chasing companies for unpaid debts. Marks said that while he expected the number of corporate bankruptcies to increase — following a period in developed markets where abundant cheap money from central banks has kept them low — he did not think this would reach double-digit levels like it did in previous crises. Companies have taken advantage of low interest rates to lock in cheap financing during the pandemic, he said. The bulk of Oaktree’s assets are managed in credit strategies but it also has much smaller divisions in real assets, listed equity and private equity. Marks questioned whether the average private equity fund could consistently outperform listed markets, and said leverage contributed a large part of the sector’s returns. “Maybe the best private equity funds really do outperform, or maybe the rest do so in brief periods,” he said. “But you can’t talk about private equity outperformance over the long term based on the average private equity firm and the research that I’ve seen. Yes, private equity has produced very good returns in the last few bullish years. But given their leverage, shouldn’t that be expected in such a period?”

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