Mannequins dressed up as soldiers have been pictured in the heavily battered Kharkiv days after reports that Ukraine has driven Russian troops back to their own border near the city.
The figures, captured north of the city, are dressed up in military gear, donning helmets and holding onto weapons.
One model was wrapped in chartreuse plastic material, appearing as a dress, as it held onto a plank-like club.
The figures, captured north of the city, are dressed up in military gear, donning helmets and holding onto weapons
Another was fitted in a khaki uniform with a vest, positioned to hold a rifle in its arms.
It is unclear why these were set up, and who is responsible for them.
It comes as, following Kyiv’s forces driving Putin’s troops back towards their own border near the eastern city, Ukraine now threatens supply lines into Donbas as Putin’s army suffers another humiliating loss.
Commanders said late Tuesday they had recaptured four small towns to the north of Ukraine’s second-largest city, with reports overnight suggesting they had pushed to within three miles of the Russian border.
One model was wrapped in chartreuse plastic material, appearing as a dress, as it held onto a plank-like club
If confirmed, it would put the city of Vovchans’k – a key supply hub linking Russia’s Belgorod to its frontlines in Donbas – within artillery range, threatening to cut supply lines and hamper Putin’s efforts to take the region.
Meanwhile today Ukraine’s defence minister admitted that there was no swift end to the war with Russia in sight.
Writing on social media, Oleksii Reznikov said that Western weapons would take some time to begin turning the tide in Ukraine’s favour.
‘We are entering a new – long-term – phase of the war,’ Reznikov said in a Facebook post.
‘Extremely difficult weeks await us. How many there will be – no one can say for sure.’
Members of the Ukrainian territorial defence force guard a position in north Kharkiv, Ukraine today
A Ukrainian mortar crew adjusts their fire as they rain shells down on Russian positions north of Kharkiv, during counter-attacks this week
He added that Russia was unable to sweep across Ukraine and capture its capital, and is now ‘forced to reduce the scale of its targets down to the operational-tactical level’.
‘We are witnessing a strategic turning point in favour of Ukraine. This process will last for some time,’ he said.
Reznikov said Ukraine is ‘slowly, but nevertheless’ receiving heavy weapons transfers from Western partners.
Kyiv expects more weapons following the meeting of the defence chiefs of more than 40 countries at the American Ramstein base in Germany last month, which Reznikov referred to as ‘a historic meeting’.
More than 1,500 Ukrainian troops are already being trained in the use of Western equipment, or set to begin training in the coming days.
Ukraine’s counter-attack north of Kharkiv threatens Russian supply lines into Donbas, where heavy fighting is currently underway
A destroyed truck is pictured as it lies near a road in north Kharkiv, in the east of Ukraine earlier today
Meanwhile, 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 this week.
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.
A destroyed vehicle captured lying in the middle of a road in north Kharkiv, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13
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 continues 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.