Report’s Eastern Europe bureau presents an interview with Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

– Officials speculate that another large-scale Russian attack on Ukraine is expected on February 23-24, the anniversary of the start of the war. In the press statement at the beginning of January, you mentioned that it was more of an information attack, but recently you also mentioned that there is a realistic expectation. To what extent is Ukraine ready to repel this attack?

– As for February 24, it is safe to say that Russia lives with the past, historical days are important for them. They associate Lenin’s birthday, the day of the October Revolution and many other days. Since February 24 is the anniversary of the start of the unprovoked aggression against our country, of course they will try to achieve some success on the frontline by that date. At present, they do not have such achievements to report to the people. I would like to emphasize once again that this country lives with the past and tries to build its history on those historical days. We are ready for all this.

– Can we expect that Ukraine will attack specific territories of Russia in order to defend itself? The matter is about the artillery that Ukraine expects to receive. The West fears that you will use this weapon to attack Russian territory.

– This question should be divided into two parts. The fact of the matter is not about using Western weapons to attack Russian territory. We have the right to destroy objects that threaten our national security with our own weapons. Let me show you a very simple example. The city of Kharkiv is regularly fired at by S-300s from Russian territory. Do you think we have the right to destroy these systems located on the territory of Russia or not? Of course, we have. We will do it not with the weapons of the West, but with our own weapons that we currently have in our arsenal.

– Recently, Mr. Reznikov made a promise to the heads of European states visiting Kyiv that the supplied weapons will not be used to attack Russian territory.

– I want to emphasize once again that we do not use Western weapons to attack Russian territory. As for missiles of our own production, we have every right to destroy objects that are critical to the safety of our citizens. We have our own missiles, complexes, UAVs.

– The next meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in the Ramstein format will be held on February 14 at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. What are your expectations from this meeting?

– Meetings will be held on February 13-14. This will be the 9th meeting in Ramstein format. I can say that the support of our partners is increasing. The aid is now increasing every month, while it was very little in the early days of the occupation. At that time, we wanted NLAW, Javelin, Stinger and Bayraktar. Currently, our military slang has expanded. Our lexicon has already included the names of weapons such as Patriot, M777, AHS Krab, Zuzana given to us by our partners. We use these weapons to fight against a terrorist state that is trying to destroy us.

– How well is Ukraine equipped with modern attack drones at this stage? Is a new batch of Bayraktar UAVs expected to be delivered to Ukraine?

Bayraktar UAVs are currently in use in Ukraine. It is true that these drones are rarely talked about now, because I would like to remind you once again that they were one of the four tools that were used at the beginning of the war. These drones were crucial because we had no other weapons. Therefore, we are grateful to our partners, our Turkish friends who helped us during the most difficult time. It is very important to understand that you are being helped. I would also like to draw attention to one issue: Bayraktar drones played an important role in the destruction of Russian troops in the early days of the invasion. Plus, these drones are doing great things right now. But I can’t talk about it. They are always at work, even at this moment.

– How is the formation of tank brigades going in order to carry out an offensive operation to liberate the occupied territories? In particular, are Leopard and Abrams tanks expected to be supplied to Ukraine?

– As for Abrams, it will take some time to deliver these tanks to Ukraine. But Leopard tanks can be delivered sooner. In addition, our soldiers are currently being trained on how to use these tanks. At this point, let’s note that the training for the military of Western countries is carried out in 3-5 months, but our servicemen complete these trainings in about 3-4 weeks. This is very important nowadays and plays an important role in our process, because unfortunately we are losing our citizens every day due to the lack of these weapons. I’m sure the tanks will be delivered sooner than expected.

– If I understood it right, they are not expected to be delivered anytime soon. Is that so? Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently stated that if the delivery of these tanks takes place in the summer months, it will be too late for Ukraine.

– In my opinion, it will be much earlier than summer.

– Compared to the summer months, it seems that the Ukrainian army slows down the counteroffensive in the winter months, especially in the direction of new settlements. Are new Ukrainian counter-offensives expected in the near future? If we compare the situation of the last week with the situation of a month ago in Bakhmut, we can say that the situation is much more complicated now and the Russian army is seriously advancing.

– They really wanted to take Bakhmut before October last year, before Putin’s birthday, but they did not succeed. In February, they increased their armament, the military in this direction, because they chose a date and this has a symbolic meaning for them. Yes, the situation there is difficult. We have meetings of the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief twice or thrice a week, and for the last three months we have begun meetings with the situation in Bakhmut, because it is as important to us as other settlements in our country. Even if for some reason the servicemen decide that we should take a step back in order to advance three steps later, we will do it. As for the offensive, we will liberate all our territories, including Crimea, and drive out all the Russian evil spirits that have invaded our land. Today, there is a lot of ‘undercover’ work of some figures who will seek to offer us a variant of North Korea and South Korea, the so-called 38th parallel. To do this, the Medvedchuks (followers of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician), members of the Opposition Platform – For Life Party, the internal front, who here call themselves political technologists, have already been raised. Now they are trying to deal with these issues, to talk about them. I can say – this will not happen, we will not go for it. Our society will never agree to the division of the country. According to our Constitution, it is single, unitary and will remain so.

– Is the enemy expected to launch the next full-scale attack on Kyiv and other regions? On the other hand, if the situation remains stable, is the military regime in the Kyiv and western regions expected to be abolished in the near future?