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.