ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 ( Alliance News): Rising tensions in eastern Ukraine have heightened fears of a Russian invasion and war in Europe as a humanitarian convoy comes under shelling.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian rebels began evacuating civilians from the conflict zone.
The Kremlin has announced large-scale nuclear drills to prepare its troops, and President Vladimir Putin has vowed to protect Russia’s national interests, which he described as a threat to the West, according to foreign media.
However, the immediate concern was in eastern Ukraine, as pro-Moscow rebels in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions announced that they had begun relocating citizens to Russia.
The announcement appears to be part of Moscow’s efforts to counter Western warnings about a Russian invasion and instead portray Ukraine as an aggressor.
The head of the rebel government in Donetsk, Denis Pushkin, said women, children and the elderly would be evacuated first and that Russia had provided facilities for them.
In a video statement, he accused Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of ordering an immediate strike in the region.
Immediately after his statement, authorities began evacuating children from an orphanage in Donetsk and other residents boarded buses for Russia, with long lines at petrol stations as more and more people had to leave on their own. Got ready
Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, ordered his Minister of Emergency Situations to leave for Rostov, a region bordering Ukraine, to help organize the evacuation.
He also ordered his officials to pay 10,000 rubles (approximately ً 130) to each evacuee, equivalent to half the average monthly salary in war-torn Donbass.
Ukraine, meanwhile, has denied any involvement in the plot, with Foreign Minister Dmitry Koliba saying his country could not carry out or plan such an operation in Donbass.
“We are fully committed to a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” he said in a Twitter message.
Meanwhile, a UN convoy along the unstable line of communication came under shelling by rebels in the Luhansk region, in which the rebels denied involvement and accused Ukraine of provocation.
However, separatist officials reported more shelling by Ukrainian forces along the line, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the situation was “extremely dangerous.”