But the spectre of Russian victory, which haunted this city, has gone. Last week I sat in a city centre park, its grass neatly cut, its flower beds blooming, and enjoyed an ice cream sundae from a cafe. The city is still largely empty, but the number of Russian artillery strikes has fallen from dozens daily, to only a handful. Air raid sirens still wail regularly, but Kharkiv no longer feels on the brink of catastrophe.

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