Ukraine’s plans for a counteroffensive against Russian occupation remain on track, its deputy defence minister told Reuters on Saturday, despite an “unprecedented” wave of missile and drone attacks across the country in recent weeks.
Volodymyr V. Havrylov said that alongside cruise missile strikes, Ukraine had faced repeated volleys of ballistic missiles in May, especially in urban centres including the capital, Kyiv.
“Their primary goal is to stop our counter-offensive and target decision-making centres,” he said on the sidelines of Asia’s top security conference, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
Havrylov called Russia’s heavy use of ballistic missiles in May a “last strategic resort” and noted that his country’s air defence systems had been “more than 90 per cent effective” against the attacks.
For Russia “it was a huge surprise to find that the effectiveness of (their ballistic missiles) was almost zero against modern air defence systems, which we received from our partners”, he said.
The US and Germany provided Ukraine with advanced Patriot missile batteries this year. Ukraine had already received advanced shorter-range systems such as NASAMS and IRIS-T from western partners.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday his country was ready to launch a much-awaited counter-offensive. Havrylov said the missile barrages had not affected the timing. “Nothing can stop our efforts, our desire, and our confidence that we’ll win this war,” he said.
Ukraine will “start the counter-offensive, with the ambition to liberate our territories this year”, he added.
Havrylov declined to comment about recent drone attacks and border incursions into Russian territory, including some strikes that reached near Moscow.
“They (Russia) have a lot of internal events that are of course linked to this war,” he said. “We have a lot of people inside Russia who support Ukraine.”
Havrylov, who joined defence and military officials from all over the world at the Singapore meeting, said Ukraine expects Nato allies to provide a detailed roadmap to the membership at the defence pact’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month.