Russia says it has repelled numerous Ukrainian attacks along front line

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting on the development program for Far Eastern cities, via video link in Sochi

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday it had repelled numerous Ukrainian attacks along the front line and inflicted hundreds of losses on enemy forces, challenging Kyiv's assertion that Ukraine was making slow but steady progress in a counteroffensive.

Russia controls about 18% of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea which it annexed in 2014 and a swathe of eastern and southern Ukraine which it took control of in 2022.

For several months, Ukraine has been battling to try to regain some of that territory and has retaken some villages but not yet made significant territorial breakthroughs against heavily fortified Russian lines which are strewn with thousands of landmines.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday singled out military units in the east and south for their fighting and military officials reported some breakthroughs in Bakhmut and near the village of Robotyne.

Moscow said its forces had stood their ground though.

"In the Donetsk direction, units of the Southern grouping of troops, in cooperation with aviation and artillery, repelled 12 attacks," the Russian defence ministry said.

"In the Zaporizhzhia direction, units of the Russian group of troops during the day repelled five attacks," it added.

Russia said Ukrainian losses totalled nearly 1,000 men over 24 hours in the battles. Reuters is unable to verify battlefield reports by either side.

Ukraine has been trying to pierce Russian lines just south of the city of Orikhiv in an attempt to divide Russian forces and put its main supply lines under threat.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)