President Volodymyr Zelensky tonight claimed that Ukraine had now retaken more than 2,000 square kilometres from Russia since launching a lightning-fast counter-offensive earlier this month. Russia’s own defence ministry confirmed a retreat among its forces, in what is seen as the most significant Ukrainian advance since Russia withdrew from areas around Kyiv in April. President Zelensky, in his nightly address on Saturday, said the Russian military are making the right choice to flee.
He said: “The Russian army is showing its best — showing its back. And it’s a good choice for them to run away. There’s no place for the occupiers in Ukraine.”
BBC News anchor Lucy Hockings called the retreat and collapse of the Russian frontline a “humiliating setback” for Vladimir Putin.
The BBC’s Hugo Bachega, reporting from Kyiv, called the latest Ukrainian offensive a “massive gain”.
He said: “More than 30 villages or towns have been liberated in the east, and these are significant towns and villages.
“Russia has admitted that their troops have abandoned the town of Izyum, which operates as a major military hub for Moscow.”
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Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko said that Izyum had been liberated in half a day after “Russians spent one month to take it in spring”.
Izyum had been used by Russian forces as a launch pad for attacks in Donetsk.
Mr Bachega continued: “We have seen footage of people out in the streets in these areas welcoming Ukrainian soldiers with kisses and hugs.
“This could be a decisive turning point in this war.
“We are hearing from pro-Russian Telegram accounts that people in those regions are reporting a desperate situation for Russian troops.