UPDATE 2-After Ukraine’s win, Kremlin says ‘military operation’ will succeed

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LONDON, Sept. 12 (Reuters) – The Kremlin on Monday urged Russia to achieve its military goals in Ukraine, in its first public response to dramatic Ukrainian victories on the battlefield.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to answer directly when a reporter asked him whether President Vladimir Putin had confidence in his military leadership, replying that the “special operation” would continue until it achieved its objectives.

“The military operation continues,” Peskov said. “And it will continue until the goals originally set are achieved.”

“Of course, all actions of the army that they carry out as part of the special operation are reported to the commander-in-chief,” Peskov said, referring to Putin.

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“The President is in contact 24 hours a day with the Secretary of Defense and with all military commanders. It cannot be otherwise during the special military operation.”

It was the Kremlin’s first response to a lightning-fast Ukrainian counter-offensive last week, with Kiev saying it recaptured more than 3,000 square kilometers of territory in just a few days.

When asked whether Putin would order a general mobilization in response to Ukraine’s counter-offensive, Peskov referred the question to the Defense Ministry.

So far, Putin has not resorted to mobilizing Russia’s reserves, which number about 2 million men on military service in the past five years.

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Peskov also said Russia has no prospect of peace talks with Ukraine, or grounds for such talks.

He said there were no discussions about the possible demilitarization of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, one of the key recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) following its visit to the plant this month.

Rapid Ukrainian victories in the Kharkiv region have seen Moscow suffer its worst defeat since it was evicted from the suburbs of the capital Kiev in April. The advance has robbed Russia of vital logistical hubs it had used to resupply its troops in eastern Ukraine.

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Moscow’s near-total silence about the defeat — or any explanation for what had transpired in northeastern Ukraine — has sparked outrage on social media among some pro-war commentators and Russian nationalists.

As Russian troops left city after city on Saturday, Putin opened Europe’s largest Ferris wheel in a park in Moscow, as fireworks lit up the sky over Red Square to celebrate the city’s founding in 1147. (Reported by Reuters; written by Mark Trevelyan, edited by Guy Faulconbridge)