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Russian-Backed Separatists Order Evacuation From Ukraine, Claim They Are About To Be Attacked

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine ordered women, children and elderly civilians to evacuate to Russia on Friday, claiming the Ukrainian government was preparing to launch a military assault, Axios reported.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, claimed Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky would soon “invade the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics,” Axios reported. Leonid Pasechnik, leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, also issued an evacuation order.

Pushilin claimed to have seen the number of Ukrainian military personnel and weapons along the border with Russia increase, and Pasechnik asked able-bodied men to take up arms, Axios reported.

Ukraine categorically refuted the allegations, Axios reported. U.S. officials have previously warned that Russia planned a false flag operation to serve as a pretext for an invasion, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken telling the United Nations on Thursday an attack would likely begin with a manufactured event or accusation.

“Russia may describe this event as ethnic cleansing or a genocide, making a mockery of a concept that we in this chamber do not take lightly, nor do I take lightly, based on my family history,” Blinken said, Axios reported. “The government will issue proclamations declaring that Russia must respond to defend Russian citizens or ethnic Russians in Ukraine.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said genocide against Kremlin-backed was happening in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, while a “joint investigative committee” of the Russian government and RT Media circulated documents to the UN Security Council alleging Ukrainians committing war crimes, Axios reported.

Both Ukraine and separatist forces accused each other of bearing responsibility for the shelling of a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. The amount of shelling in the region in recent days amounted to the most breaches reported in the long-running conflict, a top Ukrainian government official told Reuters.

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