Pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine ordered a mass evacuation of citizens to Russia on Friday.
Leaders of the two separatist regions, Donetsk and Lugansk, claimed that Ukraine is preparing a military offensive in the region, and said they will prioritize the evacuation of women, children and the elderly to the Rostov region across the border.
Ukraine denied the allegations. Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhny said Kyiv does not plan “any offensive operations or shelling of civilians in Donbas.”
Moscow, according to Ukrainian officials and NATO, has recently amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning a military offensive against its former Soviet neighbor.
Denying that it is preparing to invade, Russia has accused Western countries of undermining its security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.
Russia also issued a list of security demands to the West, including a rollback of troop deployments from some former Soviet states and guarantees that some of those states would not join NATO.
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