KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine has not yet launched a planned counter-offensive to recapture Russian-occupied territories, and its beginning will be clear to everyone when it happens, a senior security official said on Wednesday.
Oleksey Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, denied statements by Russian officials who said that the counterattack had already begun.
“All this is not true. When all this starts, it will be decided by our military,” Danilov told Reuters in an interview. “When we start the counterattack, everyone will know it, and they will see it.”
Danilov said Russian officials mistook the local Ukrainian advance in some areas of the front lines for the start of a larger operation.
Russian forces, which launched their full-scale invasion in February 2022, are fighting Ukrainian forces along large parts of the front line.
Deputy Defense Minister Hana Maliar said on Wednesday that Ukraine had advanced from 200 meters to 1,100 meters (220-1,200 yards) in some areas around the destroyed eastern city of Bakhmut in the past 24 hours.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the battlefield.
Kiev hopes the long-awaited counter-offensive marks a pivotal moment in the war, and wants to retake large swathes of territory occupied by Russia.
Danilov also said there can be no doubt that Russia caused the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region on Tuesday because the region has been under occupation since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Kiev said several months ago that Russian forces had mined the dam, and suggested that Moscow blew up the dam in an attempt to prevent Ukrainian forces from crossing the Dnipro River to attack Russian forces. Russia blames Ukraine for the dam collapse.
“It (Russia’s) had a military component. It was the first (the first), and it was plan number one,” he said. “They thought we were going to move in that direction. Their actions will not lead to the consequences they wish they would.”
Danilov also said Ukraine would now face pressure to agree to peace talks. He repeated the Ukrainian position that no talks can take place until Russian forces leave Ukrainian territory.
(Covering) By Sergei Karazi, Writing by Olena Harmash, Editing by Timothy Heritage
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