The news follows weeks of reports that Russian troops were abandoning their positions in the city.
According to Petro Podaru, a Ukrainian artillery unit commander, Ukrainian forces have “started to advance” in Bakhmut. Podaru added that Russian troops are shelling all routes to the frontlines in the hopes that Ukrainian armored vehicles are unable to deliver more ammunition, supplies, and infantry.
Despite Russian resistance, however, Ukrainian troops have advanced by as much as a mile in some places.
The Ukrainian gains are good news for many reasons, in part because it breaks a more than six-month trend of defending against Russian advances.
The news also means that Ukraine could be on the verge of wasting more than six months of heavy Russian bombardment, during which thousands of Russian soldiers have been injured or killed, and huge numbers of Russian weapons have been destroyed.
Ukrainian military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi said on television on Thursday that Ukrainian forces have “continued to advance on the flanks” by more than a mile.
Wagner Confirms Russian Retreat
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says that his fighters continue to advance in Bakhmut and could be on the verge of pushing Ukrainian troops out of their last remaining position on the western edges of the city. Prigozhin also warned, however, that Russian forces were abandoning their positions in the north and the south of the city, making it easier for Ukrainian troops to encircle Russian forces in the center of the city.
“Unfortunately, units of the Russian Defence Ministry have withdrawn up to 570 metres to the north of Bakhmut, exposing our flanks,” Prigozhin said in a voice message posted on Telegram on Thursday.
Prigozhin publicly appealed to the Russian Ministry of Defence and accused the Kremlin of not responding to his communications.
“I am appealing to the top leadership of the Ministry of Defence – publicly – because my letters are not being read,” Prigozhin said.
“Please do not give up the flanks.”
Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defence, also confirmed on May 12 that Russian forces had begun retreating from positions in the north of the city. Konashenkov said that Ukrainian forces had launched a fresh assault using as many as 40 tanks and 1,000 troops, giving them full control of the only highway currently supplying Ukrainian forces in the city.
MORE: Does Putin Have Cancer?
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.