Kharkiv live from the frontlines of Russian war

Ukraine in Flames presents the first episode of a special series about the life and resistance of the Ukrainian regions.

Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second largest city and an influential cultural and economic hub in 54 km (33 miles) from the border with Russia. A predominantly Russian-speaking region with a history of pro-Russian protests and close ties across the border, Kharkiv remains a stronghold of Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression. Kharkiv region’s strong local identity is that of a frontier and a frontline of the independent Ukraine. The region benefited from decentralization reform which solidified local communities and helped them feel in control in the Ukrainian economic system. This is a strong resource for the Kharkiv region to defend itself against the aggression.

The history of the city of Kharkiv spans three and a half centuries. Kharkiv region is a part of historical Kossak Slobozhanshchyna which used to cover territories of northeastern Ukraine and reached as far as Bielgorod, Kursk and Voroniezh regions of Russia. Kharkiv flourished during the early decades of the Ukrainian SSR, becoming the first soviet capital of Ukraine and a cultural platform for the Ukrainian national renaissance. The Berezil Theater headed by Les Kurbas moved from Kyiv to Kharkiv in 1926. The Union of Composers and the Union of Writers of Ukraine were based in Kharkiv in 1932-1936.

Kharkiv is not new to historical tragedy. The city had incredible losses in the years of mass repressions of the Stalin regime and in the years of WWII. It became a subject of a special interest of Hitler Germany and as a result both sides fought cruelly for possessing it. The city went from one occupier to another twice. It survived the occupation, hunger and destruction. As a result, 256 thousand of civilians were killed and 164 thousand were deported during 21 months of occupation. 200 thousand people out of the pre-war 900 thousand perished.

Kharkiv region has not forgotten its violent history and stoically met the violent reality of the Russo-Ukrainian war. When the war started on February 24, Kharkiv region was prepared to defend itself. Russians reached the suburbs of Kharkiv in 2-3 days and were pushed back to the border only in mid-May. Shellings of residential areas have become daily reality, as well as civilian deaths. The most recent shelling happened on June 4, took one life and endangered seven.

Defense of Kharkiv is still a point of concern. At the moment, in the Kharkiv direction, enemy units continue to concentrate their main efforts on holding their positions and preventing further advancement of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the state border. The Russian army does not stop the fire destruction of the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near Kharkiv. The enemy continues to prepare for advance and research potential advancement routes and logistical chains.


  • Serhiy Zhadan, Ukrainian writer
  • Yurii Larin, journalist from Kharkiv
  • Maria Avdeeva, Research Director at the European Expert Association
  • Serhii Petrov, civic activist from Kharkiv
  • Veniamin Sitov, head of the Merefyanska territorial community, Kharkiv region
  • Valeriia Gontar, deputy of Borivska town council, Kharkiv region.

UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media CenterUkrainian Catholic University’s analitical center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”.  We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.

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