- The Washington Times - Friday, February 18, 2022

Residents of a breakaway region of Ukraine are being evacuated to Russia due to growing tensions in the region, officials with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic told the Russian Interfax news agency.

The mass exodus began Friday. Women, children and the elderly will be the first to be sent to Russia’s Rostov region, officials said.

“Space to accommodate citizens is ready under an agreement with the Russian Federation. All necessities will be provided to those evacuated,” said DPR chief Denis Pushilin.

Authorities ultimately expect to evacuate several hundred thousand people from the region. The leader of the other breakaway section of Ukraine, the Luhansk People’s Republic, also urged residents to leave.

“To prevent civilian casualties, I am calling on the residents of the republics who do not have mobilization orders and are not involved in operating social and civilian infrastructure to depart as soon as possible to the Russian Federation,” LPR leader Leonid Pasechnik said in a statement, according to Interfax.

The two self-described republics in eastern Ukraine are engaged in a bitter civil war with the government in Kyiv. The region is at the center of the standoff between Moscow and NATO over the Kremlin’s decision to deploy more than 150,000 combat troops along its border with Ukraine.

SEE ALSO: VP Harris warns Russia of severe consequences if it invades Ukraine

President Biden has warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent. The U.S. has deployed thousands of troops to Eastern Europe to bolster nervous NATO allies such as Poland and Romania.

Mr. Pasechnik ordered local authorities, including police and other emergency services in the LPR to organization the evacuation and escort people to the checkpoints.

“The Russian Federation is ready to ensure organized reception and accommodation of LPR residents on its territory,” Mr. Pasechnik said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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