Oleksiy Danilov interview: Ukraine counter-offensive 'ready to begin'


One of the nation's top security officials told the BBC that Ukraine is prepared to begin its long-anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces.

Photo byapnews.com

Oleksiy Danilov refused to give a specific time but stated that a military operation to recover land from President Vladimir Putin's invading forces might start "today, the day after tomorrow, or in a week."

He cautioned that this was a "historic opportunity" that "we cannot lose" and that the Ukrainian government had "no right to make a mistake" in its choice.

The core of President Volodymyr Zelensky's de facto war cabinet is Mr. Danilov, who serves as secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine.

A phone message from President Zelensky calling to ask him to attend a meeting to plan the counteroffensive cut short his unusual interview with the BBC.

He also stated in the interview that some Wagner mercenary soldiers were leaving Bakhmut, the scene of the worst combat of the conflict to date, but he added that they were "regrouping to another three locations" and "it doesn't mean that they will stop fighting with us."

Additionally, Mr. Danilov stated that he was "absolutely calm" regarding Russia's start of deploying nuclear weapons to Belarus, adding, "To us, it's not some kind of news."

For months, Ukraine has been preparing a counterattack. However, it has sought as much time as possible to prepare its forces and collect military supplies from allies in the West.

Russian military has been setting up its defenses in the interim.

There is a lot on the line because the Ukrainian government wants to demonstrate to its citizens that it can cross Russian defenses, end the military standoff, and retake some of its sovereign lands.

The UK is supplying Ukraine with long-range weapons.

According to Mr. Danilov, the military attack would start when commanders determined "we can have the best result at that point of the war".

When asked if the Ukrainian military was prepared for the assault, he responded, "We are always ready. The same way that we were always prepared to protect our nation. It is also not a matter of time.

"We must comprehend that the historic opportunity that God has given our nation is one that we cannot miss if we are to truly become an independent, significant European nation."

"It could occur tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or in a week," he continued.

If I were to mention the beginning dates of that or that occurrence, it would be strange. That is not possible. Our nation faces a very responsible duty. We also realize that we are not entitled to make errors.

Mr. Danilov rejected claims that the counteroffensive had already started, asserting that Ukrainian armed forces had been tasked with "demolishing Russian control centers and Russian military equipment" since the invasion was launched by Russia on February 24, 2016.

We don't get any days off while we're at war, he declared.

He justified the army of Ukraine's decision to fight in Bakhmut for so long, a conflict that resulted in many of its troops dying.

Russia is not in control of Bakhmut, asserts a defiant Zelensky

"Bakhmut is our land, our territory, and we must defend it," he declared. "If we begin to evacuate every settlement, we may eventually reach our western border, as Putin desired from the outset of the conflict."

We accept that we only have authority over a limited portion of the city, he continued. But you must keep in mind that Bakhmut has contributed significantly to this conflict.

He responded, "Yes, that is occurring, the Wagner mercenaries are departing. However, it does not imply that their conflict with us will end. They are regrouping at the other three places and will focus more on other fronts.

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