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    Putin announces $420 million in aid for war-torn S.Ossetia

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    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced on Sunday the government will provide $10 billion rubles ($420 million) in aid for South Ossetia after Georgia's military offensive largely destroyed the capital of the breakaway region.

    GORKY (Moscow Region), August 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced on Sunday the government will provide $10 billion rubles ($420 million) in aid for South Ossetia after Georgia's military offensive largely destroyed the capital of the breakaway region.

    Georgia launched major ground and air attacks to seize control of South Ossetia on Friday, prompting Russia to send in tanks and hundreds of troops. Regional capital Tskhinvali has been largely destroyed, and around 2,000 civilians have died according to Russia. A total of 34,000 people are reported to have fled across the Russian border.

    Putin visited Vladikazkaz in neighboring North Ossetia on Saturday, where thousands of South Ossetian refugees are housed.

    Reporting on his visit to President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday, Putin said: "Speaking of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali's residential housing, and border villages, everything has been virtually destroyed, to put it mildly. People are going to need help to return to their homes, and to rebuild their houses and apartments."

    Putin described the destruction as "colossal" and said Russia would allocate at least 10 billion rubles for housing in South Ossetia.

    South Ossetia's envoy to Russia, Dmitry Medoyev, earlier told RIA Novosti that Tskhinvali had "been razed to the ground."

    The Emergency Situations Ministry said that 30 trucks containing 120 tons of food supplies are en route to Tskhinvali and to North Ossetia. Earlier the ministry said that Russian transport planes containing specialist medical teams, a field hospital, food and medical supplies, had been sent to Vladikavkaz to provide medical assistance to the injured.

    Georgia's leadership began talks on Sunday with the Russian military on creating a humanitarian corridor to allow residents of South Ossetia to escape the ongoing conflict, Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili said.

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