‘Fewer for Russia to kill!’ Zelensky announces mandatory evacuation from Donetsk region

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Addressing the people of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky said that hundreds of thousands of people still in combat zones in the larger Donbas region also needed to leave. Mr Zelensky said the sooner people leave “the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill”.

He said: “Everything is being organised. Full support, full assistance — both logistical and payments.

“We only need a decision from the people themselves, who have not yet made it for themselves.

“The sooner it is done, the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.”

The announcement comes amid continued attacks, including one at a prison in Olenivka, in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region.

Officials from Russia and the separatist authorities in Donetsk said the attack killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war and wounded 75.

Ukraine accused Russia of deliberately shelling the prison to cover up torture and executions there.

However, the Kremlin blamed Kyiv for the attack.

Mr Zelensky also urged Ukrainians who have an opportunity to talk to “those who still remain in the combat zones in Donbas” to convince their fellow countrymen that it is necessary to leave, “especially if they are families with children.”

The Ukrainian President emphasised that “there are hundreds of thousands of people, tens of thousands of children” remaining in the Donbas region at the moment.

Earlier in the week, Ukrainian forces said they were able to repel Russian attempts at storming several districts in the Donetsk region.

Ukrainian forces reported intense shelling across most of the eastern front line but no advances from Russian forces.

Meanwhile, Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, told Ukrainian media that there is no gas supply in the Donetsk region at the moment and added “there will be no heating in the Donetsk region in winter.”

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Donetsk has seen fierce fighting in recent days, particularly in the eastern town of Bakhmut, which is the focus of the Russian offensive in the Donbas.

Despite attacks in the Donbas region, UK defence and intelligence officials have claimed Russian forces as struggling to maintain momentum in the war.

The Ministry of Defence said that the Kremlin is growing “desperate” in an update on Saturday.

They added that Russia has lost tens of thousands of soldiers.

MI6 chief Richard Moore also said Vladimir Putin’s men were “running out of steam” in their assault on Ukraine.

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