The Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe reports that the Russian troops have started to retreat from previously occupied positions in the Donetsk region.
According to journalists, the Russian army is withdrawing units from the "northern salient" near Avdiivka. "The southern salient near the village of Vodiane is still holding, but they can withdraw from there in the next two days. Positions at Vuhledar have been abandoned. There is now a gray zone ten kilometers deep. The Russian Armed Forces have withdrawn to Volnovakha. They still hold the front in Marinka, but there are fewer troops there. In Bakhmut, the Ukrainian Armed Forces began to take back the neighborhoods in the center previously taken by the Wagner mercenaries. Progress is slow but successful. Apparently, the Russian Armed Forces to the north and south of Bakhmut are preparing to withdraw, " the interlocutor told reporters.
Journalists also refer to the telegram channel Volya. It confirms the information provided by the source of Novaya Gazeta. These are the positions for which battles were fought from the very beginning of the war and which Russian military called key and, in the fall, assured that it was from there that the Russian Armed Forces would be able to successfully encircle Avdiivka."
The Telegram channel Volya says: "Now all the local successes of the Russian Armed Forces are likely to turn into them leaving the positions where they generously shed their blood."
Experts interviewed by Novaya Gazeta name two reasons for the Russian retreat. First, the units of the Russian Armed Forces are unable to advance further, since they have exhausted human and material resources. Secondly, the active actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces showed Russian generals that the front can be broken in several places at once. Therefore, it was decided to reduce the contact line in order to create a stronger defense around Donetsk, Yasynuvata and Horlivka, as well as to strengthen the defense around Volnovakha.
Approximately the same opinion is expressed by the head of the Center for Military-Legal Studies Alexander Musienko. He believes that the Russian troops, having exhausted their offensive potential, are withdrawing to the earlier prepared positions. The expert notes that the offensive of the Russian troops and the preparation of defense lines and fortified areas were carried out in parallel.
"It seemed that, going on the offensive, the Russians already understood they will have to inevitably transition to defensive actions. Now, it seems, that moment has come. I think that now we will see how Russia can focus on the use of artillery to deter the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Russian Federation still has a certain number of shells left," said Alexander Musienko.
Novaya Gazeta Evropa also cites alternative opinions. Thus, the Ukrainian military expert Oleg Zhdanov connects the decrease in the intensity of fighting in the mentioned areas with other factors. "The 98th Airborne Division of the Russian Ministry of Defense is entering Bakhmut. Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Defense Ministry Valery Gerasimov bring back his old team and previously dismissed generals, including Alexander Lapin. There is no question about any withdrawal. The intensity of hostilities is falling because of bad weather and mud," Zhdanov said.