The front lines of the war are being increasingly re-drawn as Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops liberate more villages and towns to the north of the city – suggesting they are now within firing range of Vovchans’k – a key supply hub linking Russia’s Belgorod to its front lines in Donbas.
If confirmed, it means Ukraine will be better placed to disrupt and cut off Putin’s supply lines, potentially turning the war in their favour.
The village of Ruska Lozova, which sits between Kharkiv and the Russian border, has also now taken centre stage in Ukraine’s fight back against the invaders.
Recently liberated by senior military commanders, the village is just five miles from Kharkiv and is now the first line of defence against advancing Russian forces from the north.
Soldiers there say they believe most Russians have left and that they are fighting Ukrainian separatists from the Donbas region.
The fighting itself in Kharkiv has also reportedly become less intense, with shelling attacks from Putin’s forces falling from dozens daily to just a few, while both sides opt to use more drones to seek out their enemies’ tanks and guns.
However troops have been amassing in the Russian city of Belgorod, just across the border, suggesting Putin may be planning a counter-offensive.
Residents are still being evacuated across the Kharkiv region, with tragic pictures from Wednesday showing homes and apartment building destroyed.
Others are choosing to stay, and were seen queueing for humanitarian aid, while some helped war crimes investigators exhume bodies from makeshift graves.
It comes after Ukraine’s gas pipe operator announced that it will cut off a supply hub in a Russian-controlled part of Donbas which transports up to a third of its gas into Europe, starting Wednesday.
It marks the first time that pipelines carrying gas – the lifeblood of Russia’s economy and vital source of funding for its military – have been affected by the war, which has now been grinding on for more than two months.
Gazprom, Russia’s energy supplier, confirmed that the rate of gas flowing into Europe had fallen by around a quarter after supplies through the pipeline that Ukraine had threatened to cut fell to zero.
The move has the potential to push already-high energy prices in Europe up even further, though they remained stable in early trading.
Ukraine blamed the decision to close the pipeline on Russian ‘occupation forces’ interfering with the pipe, including by siphoning off gas.
Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for Gazprom, questioned that reasoning and said it would be ‘technically impossible’ to re-route supplies to another pipe.
The news emerged as Ukraine’s military continued to inflict humiliating losses on Russia – all-but pushing them away from the northern outskirts of Kharkiv.
The city, which sits just 20 miles from the Russian border, has been under attack since the first day of the war and has been among the most-heavily bombed including the first known use of cluster munitions.
But it now appears that Russia’s troops are beating a retreat back across their own border to the north, and across the Donets river to the east after a series of successful Ukrainian counter-attacks.
Ukraine’s commanders confirmed the capture of Cherkas’ki Tyshky, Rus’ki Tyshky, Bairak and Rubizhne in an update late Tuesday.
Reports overnight then suggested they had pushed further and captured Ternova – just two miles from the border – and Lyptsi, around six miles from the frontier.
It puts Ukrainian forces around 10 miles from Vovchans’k, a Ukrainian city that contains a key highway and rail line that is being used to supply forces in Donbas.