In a speech to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the forced evacuation of areas in the Donetsk region that Russia does not control.
In a late-night televised address, Mr Zelensky said hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the larger Donbass region, which includes both Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk region, would have to evacuate.
“The more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will be able to kill,” he said, adding that residents leaving the area would receive compensation.
Mr Zelensky said hundreds of thousands of people still lived in areas of Donbass where there was fierce fighting.
“Many are refusing to go, but it has yet to be done,” the president said. “If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who are still in the combat zones in Donbass. Please convince them that it is necessary to leave.”
Separately, domestic Ukrainian media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk as saying the evacuation must take place before the start of winter as the region’s natural gas reserves have been destroyed.
It comes as British defense chiefs warned that Russia fired at least 20 missiles from Belarusian territory at northern Ukraine on July 28.
It is not the first time that Ukrainian authorities have urged civilians to evacuate areas in Donetsk they control.
John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, said this could be due to anticipation of heavy fighting rather than fuel shortages.
“I don’t know why Zelenskyj made the call,” he said. “What I do know is that there has been heavy fighting in Donetsk. The Russians took over (neighbouring) Luhansk (Oblast) a few weeks ago. I expect more fierce fighting in Donetsk.”
It comes after Ukraine accused Russia of committing a war crime after more than 50 prisoners of war were killed in a bomb blast.
The captured soldiers were killed when their detention center in Olenivka, controlled by the Moscow-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, was destroyed on Friday.
The camp was near the front line and Russia claims it was hit by a US-made Ukrainian missile.
But Kyiv called it a “premeditated Russian war crime” and demanded that the UN and the Red Cross be allowed to investigate.
© evening standard
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/zelensky-orders-immediate-evacuation-of-donetsk-to-avoid-russian-shelling-41880172.html Zelenskyy orders immediate evacuation of Donetsk to avoid Russian shelling