Drone strikes on Russian soil will increase - senior Ukraine official

Mykhailo Podolyak, political advisor to Ukrainian President, speaks during an interview in Kyiv

By Tom Balmforth

KYIV (Reuters) - A senior Ukrainian official said on Friday that drone strikes on Russian soil were set to increase and that recent such attacks showed that the war in Ukraine was gradually shifting to Russia.

In an interview, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak also ruled out peace talks for now, saying any negotiations would amount to "capitulation" on the part of Ukraine and the democracies that support it.

Ukraine had ramped up its strikes on occupied areas, and attacks inside Russia itself would also increase, carried out by "agents" or "partisans", Podolyak said.

"As for Russia ... there is an increasing number of attacks by unidentified drones launched from the territory of the Russian Federation, and the number of these attacks will increase," Podolyak told Reuters.

"Because this is the stage of the war… when hostilities are gradually being transferred to the territory of the Russian Federation," he said in the interview in his office in the heavily-defended government district in Kyiv.

Drone attacks on Russia have sharply increased in scale and frequency in recent weeks, culminating this week with strikes that hit six Russian regions in one night and destroyed transport planes in a blaze at a military airfield.

Ukraine generally cheers such attacks while stopping short of openly claiming direct responsibility for them. Its Western allies forbid it from using weapons they donate to strike Russia, although they say Kyiv has the right to carry out such attacks on military targets with its own weapons.

As the attacks have increased in frequency, Kyiv has touted its progress in developing long-range strike weapons to give it an answer to Russia's longrunning campaign of air strikes on Ukrainian cities.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday praised what he said was the use of new Ukrainian weaponry with a range of 700 km - roughly the distance from Ukraine's border to Pskov, where a Russian military airbase was engulfed in flames a day earlier.


Ukraine has hit back at critics of the slow progress of its much-vaunted counteroffensive in the east and south that has been hampered by heavily-mined areas and Russian defensive lines that were prepared over the course of months.

The operation is nearing the three-month mark, but has not yet recaptured any major settlements. Russia calls the Ukrainian push a failure; Kyiv says it is advancing slowly on purpose to minimise losses.

Podolyak said Kyiv's forces were continuing to advance and hoped that Western military aid would continue to come in the months ahead. He used forthright language to rule out the expediency for Ukraine of any negotiations with Russia.

"Any negotiation process... it will mean the capitulation of Ukraine and the capitulation of the democratic world on the whole," he said.

Podolyak said he believed Ukraine's Western allies, who have poured in billions of dollars of weaponry, understood that there could be no kind of "compromise" with Moscow.

"At the moment, the partners understand that this war will no longer end in a compromise solution - that is, either we destroy Russia's capabilities by military means, and to do this we need the appropriate tools, or this war with such level of aggression will continue for some time."

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff)