Dramatic moment lightning Ukraine tank blitz punches hole in Russian defences in race to encircle key city Kherson | The Sun

DRAMATIC video shows Ukrainian tanks storming towards occupied Kherson city – part of a lightning advance of 25 miles in a day.

Kyiv's forces smashed a hole through Russian defences, their biggest breakthrough in the south of the country since the war began.

Counter-attacking forces recaptured a number of towns and villages on the banks of the Dnipro river on Monday.

And at least 31 Russian tanks and one multiple rocket launcher were destroyed in the rout.

Today the Ukrainian army was steaming on towards Kherson, the first major city to fall to Russia after the invasion.

On Friday Vladimir Putin declared the whole of the Kherson region part of Russia along with three other regions following sham referendums.

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But his puppet officials admitted they have lost control of more territory and troops are on the run.

"The information is tense, let's put it that way, because, yes there were indeed breakthroughs," Vladimir Saldo, the Kremlin-installed regional leader, told Russian state television.

"There's a settlement called Dudchany, right along the Dnipro River, and right there, in that region, there was a breakthrough. There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces."

Dudchany is around 25 miles south of where the front stood just a day earlier, indicating one of the fastest advances of the war.

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Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov admitted "numerically superior" Ukrainian tanks had "driven a deep wedge" south of Zolota Balka, a village that marked the previous front line on the Dnipro.

He claimed the Russians had killed about 130 Ukrainian troops in that fighting. Ukraine said 500 Russians died yesterday.

According to Mr Saldo, two Ukrainian battalions tried to reach the hydroelectric station at Nova Kakhovka, 44 miles east of Kherson city.

A further push down the river – which bisects the country – could cut off supplies to 25,000 Russian soldiers.

"The fact we have broken through the front means the Russian army has already lost the ability to attack, and today or tomorrow it could lose the ability to defend," said military analyst Oleh Zhdanov.

The collapse in the south was another humiliating blow for Putin after Ukraine retook the eastern city of Lyman at the weekend.

Lyman fell to Russia after weeks of brutal fighting in the summer, and became a major logistics hub supplying the front line.

But invaders dumped their weapons and fled hours after Putin held a rally in Moscow declaring the four annexed regions were "Russian for ever".

Ukraine's defence ministry said around 5,000 men were encircled, and that almost all the Russian troops in Lyman had been "redeployed either into body bags or into captivity".

Further advances were reported in Luhansk region, which Russia has almost totally controlled since the spring.

Reports claimed Ukrainians are moving towards the Russian-held towns of Kreminna and Svatove, and some pro-Kremlin bloggers suggested Russian forces have again been ordered to retreat.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the advances in his nightly address, without going into details.

He said: "New population centres have been liberated in several regions. Heavy fighting is going on in several sectors of the front."

As troops retreated in Ukraine, chaos continued back in Russia over Putin's call-up of at least 300,000 reservists.

Tens of thousands of young Russian have fled over borders to escape the draft, and some have even resorted to self-inflicting horrific injuries.

The internal conflict in Russia has reportedly signalled a turn in the tide for “cancer stricken” Putin who was described as "desperate” by Western intelligence experts.

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David Petraeus, who served as Director of the CIA under Barack Obama, told ABC: "It can still get worse for Putin and for Russia.

“And even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield won’t change this at all."

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