According to a senior Kyiv official, Russian forces have temporarily ceased their attacks on the besieged Ukrainian city of Bakhmut to regroup and bolster their capabilities.
Separately, senior Ukrainian officials indicated on Saturday that their forces were prepared to launch a long-promised counteroffensive to recapture territory captured by Russia since the beginning of the conflict.
This week, after declaring complete control of Bakhmut following the war's longest and bloodiest battle, the Wagner private army began handing over positions to regular soldiers.
In a Telegram message, Hanna Maliar, Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Defense, stated that Russian forces continued attacking but that offensive activity had decreased.
"Yesterday and today, there were no active battles in the city or on its flanks," she wrote on Saturday, adding that Moscow's forces were instead shelling the outskirts and approaches to Bakhmut.
"The enemy's offensive activity decrease is due to the replacement and regrouping of troops," Maliar explained. The adversary is attempting to improve its capabilities.
Kyiv is anticipated to commence a long-awaited counteroffensive to recapture Russian-occupied territory in the near future.
Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov told the BBC that the offensive could commence "tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or a week from now."
Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential aide, told the British publication The Guardian that preliminary operations, such as destroying supply lines and bombing depots, had already begun.
General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi of Ukraine posted a slickly produced video of Ukrainian troops taking an oath and preparing for battle on Saturday.
"The time has come to return what is rightfully ours," he wrote.
In the meantime, Ukraine's military intelligence has asserted, without evidence, that Russia is planning a "large-scale provocation" at a nuclear power facility it occupies in the southeast of the country to derail an impending Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The intelligence directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense released a statement on Friday claiming that Russian forces would attack the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, and then report a radioactive leak to trigger an international investigation that would halt hostilities and allow the Russian forces to regroup before the counter-offensive.
For this to occur, Russia "disrupted the personnel rotation of the permanent monitoring mission" of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Saturday, according to the statement. It provided no evidence to support any of the claims.
The IAEA and Russian officials did not immediately comment on the allegations.
The White House stated that it actively monitors the situation and has found no evidence of a radioactive leak.
Moscow makes Similar allegations regularly, alleging without evidence that Kyiv is plotting provocation involving various dangerous weapons or substances to accuse Russia of committing war crimes.
The Zaporizhzhia power station is one of the world's ten largest nuclear power plants. It is located in the southeastern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, which is partially occupied. The plant's six reactors have been deactivated for several months, but it requires electricity and qualified personnel to operate vital cooling systems and other safety features.
Fears of a potential nuclear calamity comparable to that of Chornobyl in northern Ukraine, where a reactor exploded in 1986 and spewed deadly radiation, contaminating a vast area, have been stoked by repeated power outages caused by fighting nearby.