Donetsk Governor Urges Evacuation of 350,000 as Russia Intensifies Attack

The governor of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region called for the evacuation of all 350,000 remaining residents as the Russian assault intensified.

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Tuesday that the mass evacuation would both help Ukrainian forces determine the "destiny" of the country and potentially save the lives of Donetsk residents in the Russian line of fire, according to the Associated Press. The evacuation call came just days after Moscow declared victory in the neighboring Luhansk region and while the Russian assault on most of Ukraine continued to escalate.

"The destiny of the whole country will be decided by the Donetsk region," Kyrylenko reportedly said while speaking to the press in Kramatorsk, the administrative center of Donetsk, according to the AP. "Once there are less people, we will be able to concentrate more on our enemy and perform our main tasks."

Kyrylenko went on to say that recent Russian shelling had been "very chaotic" and had hit Kramatorsk and the nearby city of Sloviansk especially hard, according to the AP. He said that the attacks lacked any "specific target" and were instead intended "only to destroy civilian infrastructure and residential areas."

Donetsk Governor Calls For Evacuation Russia-Ukraine War
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko on Tuesday called for all 350,000 of the region's remaining residents to evacuate as the Russian attack on Ukraine continued to escalate. Smoke billowing in the aftermath of a suspected Russian missile strike is pictured near Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on July 5, 2022. MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty

In a Tuesday Telegram post, Kyrylenko reiterated his call for civilians to evacuate the region while writing that a Russian attack on a market in Sloviansk had resulted in at least two deaths and seven injuries. Kyrylenko said that Russia was "purposefully hitting places where civilians are gathered" and described the attack as "pure terrorism."

"The terrorist state must be brought to justice!" he wrote. "I call on everyone: evacuate! Now the most important thing is to save life!"

Since the Russian invasion began on February 24, over 7.1 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine while another 4.8 refugees have fled the country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that the Russian assault had not been limited to Donetsk and other areas of the country's eastern Donbas region during a Tuesday night address to his country. He said that air raid sirens had recently gone off "over almost the entire territory" of Ukraine, according to a transcript released by his office.

Zelensky also said that Russian forces were "terrorists," before adding that residents of Kyiv and other areas of the country where the alarms had fallen silent had been "particularly anxious" at their reemergence "because of such unusual silence."

"You shouldn't overthink," Zelensky said during the address. "You should not look for logic in the actions of terrorists. The Russian army does not take any breaks. It has one task—to take people's lives, to intimidate people—so that even a few days without an air alarm already feel like part of the terror."

"And this evening, Kyiv and again almost the whole of Ukraine heard the air alarm," Zelensky added. "Our task is to hold on, to take care of ourselves, including our emotions, to help the country's defense as much as possible, to protect the state, as much as it will be necessary for our victory."

Newsweek reached out to the Russian government for comment.