Civilians flee from Donetsk to Russia
Breakaway Ukrainian Region Orders Evacuation
RT Russian News Agency
(February 18, 2022) — Ukrainian troops have been bolstered with arms supplies from Western nations and “are now prepositioned for combat and ready to take Donbass by force,” Denis Pushilin claimed in a statement on Friday, referring to his region and fellow breakaway entity, the Lugansk People’s Republic, by their collective name.
The Ukrainian rebels are expecting President Volodymyr Zelensky to order an offensive “in the nearest future.” Their military forces are prepared to fight, but civilians in rebel-controlled areas are at risk of being caught in the crossfire, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic warned.
“That is why starting today, February 18, a mass evacuation of people to the Russian Federation has been organized,” he said, adding that vulnerable groups like women, children, and the elderly would be given priority.
Pushilin said Russian officials in the neighboring Rostov Region are expecting an inflow of evacuees and will provide them with what they need. There will be conditions at border crossings to expedite the process, he added. He urged people “to heed to the warning and take the right decision,” saying that the relocation would be temporary and would save lives.
The statement was released after OSCE observers deployed to eastern Ukraine to monitor the situation along the line dividing government-controlled parts of the country and territories held by the rebel forces reported a surge in hostilities this week.
Western nations have been claiming for months that Russia was preparing a military invasion of Ukraine. US officials stated that Moscow was preparing a “false flag” operation to justify an attack.
Moscow rejected the accusations. The only way hostilities could break out, Russian officials said, is if Ukraine attempts once again to use military force to take over its breakaway regions.
Civilians Flee Mounting Violence
The escalation in fighting in Donbas is real according to the latest daily reports from the OSCE ceasefire monitors on the ground: One report as of 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday February 16th, reports heavier fighting and shelling in Luhansk PR than in Donetsk PR, with a total of 591 ceasefire violations, including 316 explosions, compared with only 153 total violations on Feb 15th. The full report has more details and a map, which shows violations occurring on both sides of the ceasefire line.