President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked residents of the Donetsk region to leave the region in eastern Ukraine. “Please evacuate,” he said in a video address on Saturday night. “At this stage of the war, terror is one of Russia’s main weapons.” Sunday is the 158th day of the war.
“In the Donbass there are hundreds of thousands of people, tens of thousands of children, many refuse to leave,” said Zelenskyy. He urged residents of Donbass to make this decision. “Believe me,” he said in a pleading tone. “The more people leave Donetsk region, the fewer people the Russian army can kill.”
Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had previously announced the forced evacuation of the entire population of the Donetsk region. People have to get to safety before the heating season because the gas networks have been destroyed, Vereshchuk said on Ukrainian television.
However, there are still thousands of civilians, including children, in the heavily contested area, Zelensky said. Local authorities would help with the evacuation and residents would be compensated for leaving the area, he promised.
“It has to be done,” Zelenskyj said. Other Ukrainians would have to do some convincing on the matter. “If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who still live in the combat zones in Donbass,” Zelenskyi said. “Please convince them that it is necessary to leave.”
“We are not Russia. We will do everything to save as many lives as possible and to limit Russian terrorism as much as possible.”