In a remarkable turn of events, Russian forces have retreated from the outskirts of Bakhmut, Ukraine, possibly brought on by the increased activity and the possible start to a resurgent counteroffensive by Ukrainian troops. This retreat signifies a significant setback for Russia, with both sides now reporting the most significant Ukrainian gains in six months. Moreover, the long-awaited Ukrainian offensive appears to be underway, as their forces have steadily advanced, bolstered by hundreds of new Western tanks and armored vehicles received earlier this year.

Ukrainian Advances and Russian Reaction

The retreat from Bakhmut, confirmed by Moscow on May 12, follows reports of Ukrainian advances south of the city. This coordinated push by Kyiv suggests a strategic move to encircle Russian forces in Bakhmut, which has been a coveted objective for Moscow throughout the bloodiest phases of the conflict.

Although Ukrainian officials have downplayed the extent of their offensive, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged the need for more time for equipment to arrive. However, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner private army leading the campaign in Bakhmut, labeled the recent Ukrainian advances as the commencement of Kyiv’s long-anticipated campaign.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed Ukraine’s assault north of Bakhmut, involving over 1,000 troops and up to 40 tanks, marking the most substantial Ukrainian offensive since November. While the Russian forces successfully repelled 26 attacks, troops in one area fell back to regroup in more favorable positions near the Berkhivka reservoir northwest of Bakhmut.

Civilians Caught in the Crossfire

It has been 15 months since the start of this war; all that time, civilians residing near the front lines felt the brunt of it, exacting a heavy toll on them, losing their homes and interrupting their peaceful lives. As a result, Moscow has initiated the evacuation of civilians from Ukraine’s partially occupied Zaporizhzhia province, where residents have endured the harrowing experience of shelling and witnessed the destructive aftermath of relentless attacks.

The devastating impact of the war is vividly recounted by Lyudmila, a 22-year-old resident of Kamianka-Dniprovska, who sought refuge in Berdyansk: