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Ukraine says it repelled 47 attacks on eastern front

Ukrainian officials say troops have been able to repulse Russian attacks on the eastern town of Bakhmut.

March 31, 2023
31 March 2023

Ukrainian troops have defeated several simultaneous Russian attacks on different sections of the eastern front, the Ukrainian military says.

The sections near Kupiansk, Limansk, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mariinsk were subjected to attacks, the general staff in Kyiv announced in its situation report.

“A total of 47 attacks by the enemy were repelled.”

Once again, the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which has been heavily contested for months, was at the centre of the action.

“However, our defenders are bravely holding the city and repulsing numerous enemy attacks,” the General Staff’s statement said.

Earlier, Ukraine officials said Russian forces had made some gains inside the city of Bakhmut but at a heavy price in lives lost that had blunted Russia’s offensive.

“Enemy forces had a degree of success in their actions aimed at storming the city of Bakhmut,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in an overnight report. 

The Institute for the Study of War think tank said Russian troops and Wagner mercenaries had captured territory in the south and southwest of the city over the past two days, and Wagner had occupied a metal plant in its north this week.

Russian forces have been advancing slowly inside Bakhmut in intense street fighting. 

A month ago, Ukraine seemed likely to abandon the city but has since decided to stay and fight for it, hoping to break the attacking force.

Deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said in a social media post that losses were inevitable but “the enemy’s losses are many times greater”.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a Ukrainian military spokesman, told broadcasters: “Bakhmut remains the epicentre of military activity… It’s still constantly ‘hot’ there.”

As winter has turned to spring, the pressing question is how much longer Russia can sustain its offensive and when or if Ukraine will strike back.

Russia’s invasion has destroyed Ukrainian cities and set millions of refugees to flight. 

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides are believed to have died.

Meanwhile, scuffles broke out outside a Kyiv monastery on Thursday after a Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church that the government says has ties with Russia defied an eviction order.

Tensions over the presence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) at the 980-year-old Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery have risen since the Russian invasion.

Ukraine accuses the UOC of maintaining ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, which has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The UOC says it broke all links with the Russian Church in May 2022.

Hours after a deadline to leave the monastery passed at midnight on Wednesday, members of the UOC refused entry to representatives of a government commission who wanted to inspect buildings in the gold-domed monastery’s sprawling complex.

Shortly afterward, scuffles broke out in which a Reuters reporter was hit and shoved by an unidentified man and another reporter was pushed away by a cleric as she tried to approach him. 

No one was hurt.

Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko later condemned the “brutal” treatment of the commission members. 

He said in a statement that the government had filed a complaint with police and that efforts to inspect the buildings would continue on Friday.

The UOC is Ukraine’s second-largest church although most Ukrainian Orthodox believers belong to a separate branch of the faith, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formed four years ago by uniting branches independent of Moscow’s authority.

Russia condemned Ukraine’s push against the UOC as an outrage and a crime.

“Such actions are increasingly plunging Ukraine into the Middle Ages in the very worst sense of the word,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram.

with Reuters

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