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Separatists announce start of evacuation operation in Donbas

Separatists in eastern Ukraine announced today that they are starting to withdraw civilians to Russia, while Kyiv accuses pro-Russian forces in Donbas of having fired on a military border checkpoint.

Denish Pushilin, leader of the separatist government in the Donetsk region, said today that women, children, and the elderly will be the first to be evacuated from the region, as tensions escalate, and that Russia has prepared facilities to accommodate them.

The self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, denounced an increase in attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces, to justify the evacuation measures that are beginning to be prepared on a large scale.

Separatists from the Lugansk and Donetsk regions reported more shelling by Ukrainian forces along the tense line of contact.

In light of this information, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the situation in the region was “potentially very dangerous”.

The evacuation maneuvers come at a time when the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, reported on the social network Facebook that his checkpoint in the Lugansk region was the target of an attack by separatists during the morning of today.

Zaluzhny assured that the separatists fired shots with large-caliber machine guns, mortars, and grenade launchers, from the city of Veselaya Gora, with no reports of casualties among the Ukrainian military or civilians.

“Four vehicles from the humanitarian convoy passed the checkpoint and people were taken to a shelter,” said the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army.

In a statement, the command of the Ukrainian armed forces deployed in the conflict zone also accused pro-Russian separatists of having violated the ceasefire 33 times since midnight last night.

However, Zaluzhny guarantees that there is no “offensive operation or bombing of civilians” under way, adding that the actions of Ukrainian forces “are purely defensive”.

Ukrainian military forces stress that the conflict zone – which in almost eight years has caused more than 14,000 deaths – remains under the control of government forces.

Source: with agencies

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