Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his government is ordering the mandatory evacuation of people in the eastern Donetsk region, the scene of fierce fighting with Russia.
The governor of Donetsk, where Moscow is focusing the brunt of its offensive, said six civilians were killed and 15 others wounded in attacks on Friday.
In a television address late on Saturday, Zelenskyy also said the hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the larger Donbas region, which contains Donetsk as well as the neighbouring Luhansk region, needed to leave.
“The more people leave [the] Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” he said, adding that residents who left would be given compensation.
Logistics and support operations were being handled by the authorities “from A to Z”, he added.
“We will help you. We are not Russia. We will do everything possible to save the maximum number of human lives and to maximally limit Russian terror.”
Separately, domestic Ukrainian media outlets quoted Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk as saying the evacuation needed to take place before winter begins since the region’s natural gas supplies had been destroyed.
Zelenskyy said hundreds of thousands of people were still living in areas of Donbas where fighting was fierce.
“Many refuse to leave but it still needs to be done,” the president said. “If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who still remain in the combat zones in Donbas. Please convince them that it is necessary to leave.”