Ukrainian forces have liberated a key village in the southern region of Kherson, hastening another Russian military retreat.
The defence ministry in Kyiv posted a video showing the 35th marine brigade hoisting a Ukrainian flag above Davydiv Brid, amid reports of several other nearby villages being recaptured.
Russian forces have already been forced to retreat in Ukraine’s north-east.
They are now being pushed back in the south as well.
Their latest setbacks came as President Vladimir Putin was due to sign into force decrees annexing four Ukrainian regions, while war was raging in all four.
The annexation has no legitimacy under international law and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared them null and void.
President Joe Biden spoke with Mr Zelensky on Tuesday and assured him the US would never recognise Russian annexation. They also discussed $625m (£550m) of US aid, including Himars rocket launchers.
Russia still controls Kherson city, the regional capital, in the south. But its grip is looking increasingly shaky on the entire area north of the River Dnieper, known as Dnipro in Ukrainian.
In the past 48 hours, Ukrainian forces have pushed south along the west bank of the river, and Russian units have now been forced to pull back from several settlements in the north of Kherson region too.
Mr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces had made “fast, powerful movements” in southern Ukraine and liberated “dozens of settlements” this week alone.
“The Ukrainian flag flies again over the village of Davydiv Brid,” Ukraine’s defence ministry proclaimed on social media. Residents filmed Ukrainian soldiers walking through the village.
Edited by Mrs Grace