MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Russian military said on Monday it had taken full control of the settlement of Bilohorivka in Ukraine's Luhansk region but the Kyiv military said it was holding Moscow troops back in the area.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement its forces had taken up better positions in the area.

Ukraine's General Staff said on Facebook Kyiv troops "have been holding back" Russian attacks near the village for what it described as quite a long time on Monday.

The Russian Defence Ministry added it had also been involved in fierce clashes in Ukraine's Kharkiv region near Vovchansk, Starytsia, and Hlyboke where it said troops had repelled two counter-attacks.

Russian forces earlier this month thrust into the Kharkiv region in what President Vladimir Putin said was an operation to create a buffer zone to protect Russian border regions.

(Reporting by ReutersWriting by Maxim Rodionov; editing by Andrew Osborn and Christina Fincher)