Ukraine recaptured its first village in Luhansk, an area that Russian forces took five months to bombard to submit and conquer.
Belogorovka is the latest prize for Ukraine’s continued counter-offensive driving Russia away from the second city of Kharkiv.
The village is just a dozen kilometers from the cities of Lysychansk and Severdonestsk, key regional economic centers in the wider Donbass region that the Kremlin has promised to defend at all costs.
The village also lies 45 miles east of the River Oskil where Russian forces fled after a Ukrainian offensive around Kharkiv recaptured an area the size of Devon within days.
Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian leader of Luhansk, said Ukrainian soldiers now had “full” control of Belogorovka.
“We all need to be patient in anticipation of a full-scale deoccupation of the Luhansk region,” he said.
Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk rebelled against Ukraine in 2014 and fought a war to create pro-Russian pseudo-states. The Kremlin used their defense as an excuse to launch its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
But now, armed with high-tech Western weaponry, top-notch US intelligence and top-notch morale, Ukrainian forces have vowed to retake all of Lugansk.
It would be yet another humiliation for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, whose forces celebrated the expulsion of Ukrainian forces from Luhansk in early July.
Built on the enormous advantage of the Russian artillery, their offensive had been overwhelming and destructive. The Ukrainian forces, however, had withdrawn, regrouped and planned a massive counterattack based on a deception that caught the exhausted Russian forces off guard.
When Ukrainian forces attacked the area around Kharkiv two weeks ago, Russia’s weak defensive line collapsed and its soldiers fled.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has now released photos of a captured T90-M tank, the most sophisticated in the Russian army, which has been abandoned by Russian soldiers.