Donetsk residents urged to evacuate as fighting rages in eastern Ukraine

People walk through the damage to the central market in Sloviansk, Ukraine on July 6. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials are urging remaining residents of the Donetsk region to evacuate to safer areas as Russian forces close in on eastern territories.

“Russia has turned the whole Donetsk region into a hotspot where it is dangerous for civilians to stay,” Donetsk regional military administration chief Pavlo Kyrylenko said, commenting on a missile strike in Toretsk on Wednesday.

“I call on everyone to evacuate. Evacuation saves lives,” he added.

Ukraine still controls 45% of Donetsk, but after taking control of Lysychansk in neighboring Luhansk region, Russian forces are now pushing towards Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. The resumption of strikes has accelerated the pace of evacuations but most residents have already left the city, according to the head of the military-civilian administration of Sloviansk, Vadym Liakh.

(Sloviansk Military Administration)
(Sloviansk Military Administration)

“Those who saw (what happened in Severodonetsk or Lysychansk) left a long time ago. Today there are about 23,000 Sloviansk residents (out of about 100,000) remaining in the city,” Liakh said. “The number of people ready to leave has increased. We are working on evacuation in two directions: to Lviv, Dnipro or Rivne.

Due to the increased flow of passengers leaving Donetsk, Ukrainian Railways said they will add additional carriages to facilitate the movement of people.

Although some are resisting calls from authorities to evacuate, most people have already left the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region. According to Kyrylenko, only about 340,000 people remain – out of 1,670,000 before the war.

“It’s hard to persuade people to evacuate,” Kyrylenko said Friday, “We’re working on it all the time. People are starting to leave more actively, because there’s chaotic shelling of civilian infrastructure.”

A bit of context: The Ukrainian army general staff said on Monday that after taking control of the last town under Ukrainian control in Luhansk Oblast, Russian forces were preparing to continue their movement towards the still-controlled towns of Donetsk. by Kyiv.

Sloviansk and Kramatorsk are the two largest population centers in the region.

After taking Lysychansk, Russian forces now control almost all of the Luhansk region except for a few pockets of resistance.


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