A man cycles past parts of a destroyed armoured vehicle on a road in Balakliya, Kharkiv region. (Photo: JUAN BARRETO via Getty Images)
Ukraine is continuing to make “significant gains” as it recaptures Russian-held territory, according to the Ministry of Defence.
In a dramatic turnaround, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s troops have made major advances in the east of their country, forcing their opponents to flee.
Since the counter-offensive was launched on September 6, Ukrainian troops have advanced up to 50 kilometres in previously Russian-held territory, the MoD said on Saturday.
“Russian forces were likely taken by surprise,” they said in an intelligence update. “The sector was only lightly held and Ukrainian units have captured or surrounded several towns.
“A Russian force around Izium is likely increasingly isolated. Ukrainian units are now threatening the town of Kupiansk; its capture would be a significant blow to Russia because it sits on supply routes to the Donbas front line.
“With Ukrainian operations also continuing in Kherson, the Russian defensive front is under pressure on both its northern and southern flanks.”
A further update this morning said: “Over the last 24 hours, Ukrainian forces have continued to make significant gains in the Kharkiv region.
“Russia has likely withdrawn units from the area, but fighting continues around the strategically important cities of Kupiansk and Izium.”
Absolutely crazy; over ten Russian tanks and other armoured vehicles abandoned in Kharkiv.
The oak leaves emblem of the supposedly elite 4th Guards "Kantemirovskaya" Tank Division can be seen on the turret of an abandoned T-80U...pic.twitter.com/oWU9BkNqtd
— Jimmy (@JimmySecUK) September 11, 2022
The Ukrainian advances have raised hopes of a turning point in the war, which began with the Russian invasion in February.
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former British army commander, said: “The Ukrainians saw an opportunity and it did a very good job to seize it.
“It’s good news they are on the offensive, showing the Russians can be beaten.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.