Watch: Ukrainian troops 'push Russian soldiers back from Kharkiv'
Ukrainian defence forces said they have pushed Russian soldiers back from the city of Kharkiv as Volodomyr Zelenskyy claimed their invasion was at a "dead end".
It has been over 80 days since Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to take Ukraine, but so far their progress has been slow.
Having failed to take the capital of Kyiv and face huge resistance in the north of the country, Russian troops were ordered to focus their efforts on eastern Ukraine, particularly the Donbas region.
Ukraine has been retaking territory in its northeast, driving Russian forces away from Kharkiv, the second-largest city.
On Monday Kharkiv's regional governor Oleh Sinegubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app that troops of the 227th Battalion had restored a sign on the state border, signalling that Putin's forces had been forced out the area.
“We thank everyone who, risking their lives, liberates Ukraine from Russian invaders,” Sinegubov said.
Footage posted to social media showed soldiers gathering around a marker with the Ukrainian flag colours, signalling land claiming to have been taken back under their control.
The comments have not yet been independently verified, and it was not immediately clear how many troops had reached the Russian border and where.
Zelenskyy stated that “the time will surely come when the Ukrainian people fully force” Russia to “recognise reality,” warning Russia was “at a dead end” in the war.
The Russians switched the focus of their offensive to the eastern region of the Donbas – which was already part-held by pro-Moscow separatists – after their advance on Kyiv was driven back.
However the MoD said despite small-scale initial advances, they had failed to make any substantial territorial gains over the past month while suffering “consistently high levels of attrition”.
It said the offensive was being further hampered by the loss of “critical enablers” such as bridging equipment and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drones.
Monday's comments come after UK intelligence said Russia may have lost a third of the invasion force it sent into Ukraine as its offensive continues to struggle in the face of stiff resistance.
In its latest assessment, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the Russian campaign in the east of Ukraine had “lost momentum” and was now “significantly behind schedule”.
At a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was essential to maintain support for the government in Kyiv to help it “push Russia out”.
She said in a statement: “(President) Putin must face a sustained defeat in Ukraine, Russia must be contained and such aggression must never happen again.
“Ukraine’s security must come from it being able to defend itself. Allies must support Ukraine’s move to Nato-standard equipment, immediately providing artillery, training and the required expertise.”
Nato deputy secretary-general Mircea Geoana said the Ukrainians were now in a position to defeat the Russians and win the war.
“The brutal invasion of Russia is losing momentum,” he told reporters.
“With significant support from allies and partners in billions of dollars, in military support, in financial support, humanitarian support, we know that with the bravery of the Ukrainian people and army and with our help, Ukraine can win this war.”
Meanwhile Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto has confirmed that his country intends to apply to join Nato, with Sweden expected to follow suit.
The Finnish Parliament is expected to endorse the decision in coming days, to be followed by the submission of a formal membership application next week.
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that, if the two Nordic nations did apply, it would be a “historic moment” for the alliance.
“Their membership in Nato would increase our shared security, demonstrate that Nato’s door is open, and that aggression does not pay,” he said.
Boris Johnson, who visited both countries last week, has said the UK would strongly support their applications.