How Ukraine Changed Russia’s Battle for Bakhmut

Ukrainian soldiers were waiting for just the right moment to attack. Then they received critical intelligence: Russian mercenaries on the other side of the front line outside Bakhmut were about to rotate out and be replaced by other soldiers.

It was time to go. “We all felt the adrenaline,” said an infantry soldier who identified himself by his call sign, Face, in accordance with military protocols.

Ukrainian soldiers were told to get their kits ready, making sure they had plenty of grenades and full clips of ammunition. “We considered the change of shifts to be the enemy’s biggest weakness,” said Col. Andriy Biletsky, the commander of the brigade.

It was the morning of May 6, the beginning of three days of fighting on the outskirts of Bakhmut that has shifted momentum in the fiercest battle of the war. Soldiers from Ukraine’s 3rd Separate Assault Brigade battled with the Russians across forest belts where the trees rose like scorched matchsticks. They stormed trenches…

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This article was written by Marc Santora and Tyler Hicks and originally published on