Ukraine LIVE: Russia in open hint of defeat as Putin vows to end war 'as soon as possible'

The Russian leader faces the very real threat of more humiliation on the battlefield – an outcome that could have serious existential consequences for his regime.

Vladimir Putin’s hold on power has “never been weaker” and is likely to become even more tenuous as Russians wake up to the military disaster unfolding in Ukraine, according to a politician from Saint Petersburg.

The Russian president and his generals have been rocked by Kyiv’s lightning counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, which has seen Ukrainian forces reclaim over 2,300 square miles of territory in just over a week.

Ukraine’s army is consolidating its gains and looking to make further advances into Luhansk province – one of the two regions that constitute the Donbas.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has questioned whether Putin’s army has sufficient troops or morale to withstand further Ukrainian attacks in the east.

Dmitry Palyuga, a Yabloko Party councillor from the Smolninskoye municipality, said Putin was living on borrowed time and that the country was “very tired of his games of conquest”.

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