The leader of pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway state of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, ordered a general mobilization on Saturday.
Pushilin said he signed an order for general mobilization, claiming that Ukraine was planning an offensive against the region, also known as Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), in a video published on his Telegram account.
"I appeal to all the men of the republic, who are able to hold weapons in their hands, stand up for their families, their children, wives, mothers,” Pushilin said.
The evacuation of civilians has commenced, and several buses carrying residents had already arrived in Rostov-on-Don in Russia, Pushilin added.
The bigger picture: On Friday, Pushilin urged women, children, and the elderly to evacuate to Russia ahead of a purported Ukrainian invasion.
While there has been a sharp rise in ceasefire violations across what is known as the line of contact between Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatist forces in the past two days, Ukrainian officials deny any plans to retake the Donbas region by force, saying that they see this week's incidents as an effort by Russia to create a pretext to launch an invasion.
On Friday, Foreign Ministers of Germany and France said they do not see “any grounds” for DPR’s allegation, warning that “staged incidents could be misused as a pretext for possible military escalation."