Ukraine says troops repel Russian attacks along front line

By Nick Starkov and Ronald Popeski

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday its troops had repelled Russian assaults in widely separated sectors of the war and braced for a fresh attempt to capture the key frontline eastern town of Avdiivka.

Russia is engaged in a slow-moving campaign in eastern areas of the 1,000-km (600-mile) front line after failing in its bid to march on Kyiv in the conflict’s early days. Ukraine has registered only limited progress in a counteroffensive launched in the east and south in June.

Ukraine’s General Staff, in its evening report, said its forces had beaten back 15 attacks near Kupiansk in the northeast and 18 attacks near Maryinka further south, where battles have raged for months.

Nine attacks were repelled in and near Avdiivka, where Moscow launched the latest of several drives in mid-October.

Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, said several days of rain had for the moment ruled out any new Russian advance – what he described as the “third wave”.

“We’ve had nearly a week of heavy rain,” he told the public broadcaster Suspilne. “The terrain is too difficult and equipment cannot move.”

Barabash said Russian troops had been targeting the town’s vast coking plant with artillery for the past week.

The last 16 workers keeping the plant operating had finally been evacuated, he said and only two doctors and four nurses remained in what was a town of 32,000 before Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

“These are our city’s angels,” he told the television.

Avdiivka has become a hallmark of Ukrainian resistance – and is seen as a gateway if Ukraine is to retake main areas in the east, including the town of Donetsk, 20 km away.

Occupied briefly when Russian-backed separatists seized large areas of eastern Ukraine in 2014, the town was retaken by Ukrainian forces who subsequently erected substantial fortifications around it.

Russian accounts of the fighting said Moscow’s troops had launched strikes on Ukrainian men and equipment in villages near the eastern town of Bakhmut, seized by Russian forces last May.

Reuters could not independently confirm battlefield accounts made by either side.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Nick Starkov; Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Lincoln Feast)