Reznikov said Russian claims of advances in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the direction of the Ukrainian-led city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region, were a diversion tactic.
“They try to divert our attention and advance there, trying to force us to regroup our troops,” Reznikov said.
In the south, much depends on the stability of Russia’s defence effort, which despite a loss of manpower and equipment has defied predictions that it would crumble. The Kremlin has been able to supply its front lines with more troops, officials have said.
The next Russian lines will “very likely pose significant challenges for the Ukrainian advance,” ISW analysts said.
Ukraine believes its fighters have broken through the most difficult line of Russian defences in the south and that they will now start advancing more quickly, a commander who led troops into Robotyne told Reuters last week.
Separately, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Monday any suggestion of differences with Washington over Ukraine’s military strategy were “mistaken and invented”.
He told a news conference that Ukrainian commander-in-chief Valery Zalunzhniy was meeting “systematically” with senior officials from allied countries supplying Ukraine with weaponry.
“Everything is going according to the plan, which was discussed with our partners in advance when our brigades were being formed, when they were equipped…,” Reznikov said.
Media have reported on a meeting this month of senior NATO military chiefs and Ukraine’s top general on resetting Ukraine’s military strategy.
The New York Times last week quoted US and other Western officials as saying that the offensive had made limited progress because Ukraine had too many troops in the wrong places.
A military spokesman told Ukrainian television Kyiv’s forces were continuing to fortify their positions in Robotyne.
“Stabilisation measures, demining and preparations for further actions are under way,” Oleksandr Shtupun said.
Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar told Ukrainian television earlier that Kyiv’s troops, who began their counteroffensive in early June, were now moving southeast of Robotyne and south of nearby Mala Tokmachka.
Maliar described the battlefield situation in the east as “very hot” in the past week. She said Russian troops were gathering new forces there and regrouping, and Moscow was aiming to deploy its best troops there.
Ukrainian forces had continued to advance south of Bakhmut, she said, referring to the shattered eastern city captured by Moscow’s troops in May after months of fierce fighting.
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