Ukraine has not yet launched a planned counter-offensive to win back territory occupied by Russia, and its start will be obvious to everyone when it happens, a senior security official said on Wednesday.
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, dismissed statements by Russian officials who have said the counteroffensive has already begun.
“All of this is not true. When all this will begin, it will be decided by our military,” Danilov told Reuters in an interview. “When we start the counteroffensive, everyone will know about it, they will see it.”
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Danilov said Russian officials had mistaken local Ukrainian advances in some frontline area for the start of the larger operation.
Russian forces, who began their full-scale invasion in February 2022, are fighting Ukrainian troops along large parts of the frontline.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Wednesday that Ukraine had advanced from 200 metres to 1,100 metres (220-1,200 yards) in some areas around the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut in the previous 24 hours.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the battlefield.
Kyiv hopes the long-awaited counter-offensive will mark a pivotal moment in the war, and wants to regain significant swathes of Russian-occupied territory.
Danilov also said there could be no doubt that Russia caused the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River in the southern region of Kherson on Tuesday because the area had been under occupation since early on in Russia’s invasion.
Kyiv had said several months ago that the dam had been mined by Russian forces, and has suggested that Moscow blew up the dam to try to stop Ukrainian troops crossing the Dnipro to attack Russian forces. Russia blames Ukraine for the dam’s collapse.
“They [Russia] had a military component. It was the first [one], it was plan number one,” he said. “They believed that we would advance in that direction. Their actions will not result in the consequences that they would have liked them to lead to.”
Danilov also said Ukraine would now have face pressure to agree to peace talks. He reiterated the Ukrainian position that there could be no talks until the Russian forces leave the Ukrainian territory.