Russia keeps up 'active defence' on Ukrainian front - Shoigu

FILE PHOTO: Russian Defence Minister Shoigu attends a government meeting in Moscow

(Reuters) - Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that his forces were maintaining "active defence" in the face of Ukraine's counteroffensive, and that Moscow had no choice but to win.

Shoigu said the autumn campaign was now under way and acknowledged in comments to a reporter for Rossiya-1 state TV that the situation on the front was difficult in places.

"The forces are maintaining active defence on the necessary, essential fronts. In some places it's harder, in others simpler," he said.

"But I can say that the lads and the commander are performing confidently, and reliably defending what we need to defend at the moment - those places, obviously, where the Ukrainian armed forces are trying to break through."

The main task was to knock out enemy weaponry, he said.

Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine's territory after more than 18 months of war, but has been forced to pull back from large areas it seized in its initial invasion near the capital Kyiv and in the south and east.

Ukraine launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive in June that has recaptured more than a dozen villages but has been complicated by vast minefields and heavily entrenched Russian forces.

Asked if Russia would win, Shoigu replied: "We have no other options."

(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan, Editing by Alex Richardson)