Russia loses 31 tanks as Ukraine makes breakthrough in the south

Ukraine’s counter-offensive was gaining fresh momentum on Tuesday after its forces recaptured territory and destroyed dozens of Russian tanks to achieve an important new breakthrough in the south of the country.

Several settlements were recaptured as Ukrainian troops advanced towards the southern city of Kherson in a success that also threatens to cut off Russian supply lines.

The advance, which saw the destruction of 31 Russian tanks and a multiple rocket launcher, came at the same time as a separate advance by Kyiv’s forces in eastern Ukraine and was hailed by the country’s president Volodomyr Zelensky.

“New population centres have been liberated in several regions,” he said in his daily video address, adding that “heavy fighting is going on in several sectors of the front.”

The breakthrough near Kherson follows the weekend retreat of Russian forces from the town of Lyman in the eastern Luhansk region. It means Moscow has already lost territory in two of the four areas of Ukraine which it illegally annexed in the wake of widely denounced referendums.

In the south, Ukraine’s advance was marked in a video released by its defence ministry showing soldiers from its 128th Mountain Assault Brigade raising the blue and yellow national flag in Myrolyubivka, a village between the former front line and the strategically important Dnipro river.

Watch: Ukraine forces liberate Kherson region settlements, says Zelenskiy

Serhiy Khlan, a Kherson regional council member, listed four other villages recaptured or where Ukrainian troops had been photographed. “It means that our armed forces are moving powerfully along the banks of the Dnipro,” he said.

The Russian military admitted a setback, saying that “superior tank units” had managed to “penetrate the depths of our defence” around the villages of Zoltaya Balka and Alexsandrovka.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader of the occupied parts of Kherson, added that “there are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces” and told Russian television that Ukraine’s troops had also recaptured the town of Dudchany.

It lies on the banks of the Dnipro about 20 miles south of where the front line stood before Ukraine’s breakthrough.

Meanwhile, as Russian media published critical coverage warning of supply and manpower shortages, as well as tactical errors, there were reports of further Ukrainian advances towards the occupied towns of Kremenna and Svatove in Luhansk in the wake of the retreat by Moscow’s forces from Lyman.

In a further development, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Russia’s president Vladimir Putin had signed an order for the “routine autumn conscription cycle, which aims to train 120,000 conscripts”.