Donetsk plans to evacuate 700,000 residents
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic is evacuating its civilians as part of the mounting concerns over a Ukrainian invasion.
Donetsk plans to evacuate some 700,000 civilians from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, the DPR's ministry of emergency situations reported.
"The first buses with evacuated residents of the Donetsk People's Republic leave today at 8 a.m. It is planned to evacuate about 700,000 residents of the DPR. First of all, these are children, women, and the elderly," the ministry said on Facebook.
Earlier, the leadership of the DPR and LPR announced the temporary evacuation of citizens of the republic to Russia's Rostov region in connection with the threat of Ukraine's invasion.
Kyiv using artillery in Donbas to lead to huge casualties: LHR
The Ukrainian armed forces deployed a large amount of tubed artillery to the line of contact, and using them would lead to substantial casualties, Lugansk representative in the Trilateral Contact Group Rodion Miroshnik said.
He also confirmed earlier reports of shelling in the self-proclaimed republic, saying there had been shelling of a small village, Sanzhary, which is between Debaltseve and Pervomaisk, situated on the contact line between the Ukraine and Donbas.
The envoy reported that the Ukrainian Armed Forces used 122-millimeter artillery there. "We are talking about the use of tubed artillery," Miroshnik revealed.
"On the line of contact, we see a huge amount of cannon artillery 122-152 millimeters (caliber), which can strike at a distance of 20-40 kilometers," he highlighted.
Miroshnik also reminded that the center of Donetsk was only seven kilometers away from the line of contact, and there were only 12 kilometers from the positions of where the weapons were deployed and the center of Lugansk.
Warning of the repercussions of Kyiv using these weapons, he noted that in case the artillery was used, the number of casualties and victims would be absurd.
Donbas was being pushed toward a military resolution of the conflict because Ukraine was not ready to negotiate with the LPR and the DPR, according to the envoy.
In a related vein, Moscow is ready to participate in any urgent Trilateral Contact Group meeting, a source in Moscow said, if Kyiv and Donbas agreed to hold such a meeting.
"If Kyiv and Donbas agree to convene it, Russian representatives, of course, will participate as intermediaries," the source said.
As part of the rising tensions between the People's Republics and Kyiv, Al Mayadeen correspondent reported earlier in the day hearing an explosion next to the government headquarters in Donetsk.
That came after news agencies reported that a huge explosion was heard in Donetsk's city center.
Our correspondent had also reported that Ukrainian shelling had begun on Donetsk, and the authorities sounded the air raid sirens.