Russia’s next move in Ukraine seems clear: Ukrainians living in the contested Luhansk region were encouraged to evacuate earlier this week as Russian strikes intensified in the area, targeting civilian infrastructure and buildings.
In a Telegram post shared on Monday, the head of Luhansk’s Regional Military Administration said that evacuations would be organized from the cities of Rubizhne, Hirske, Popasna, Lysychansk, and Severodonetsk.
In the post, Serhiy Haidai urged people to evacuate while they can still be saved.
“We will proceed with evacuation no matter what,” he said, telling residents that there are “no safe places left in the region.”
This latest round of evacuations is not expected to be hindered by disagreements over humanitarian corridors. Such disagreements severely impacted previous evacuation efforts in other parts of Ukraine. This time, evacuations will take place even as Russian soldiers continue their assault on the region.
Kyiv Independent also reported on Tuesday that Haidai said evacuating residents from the town of Kreminna, a town that was recently seized by Russian forces, is now impossible.
Four civilians who attempted to Kreminna were fatally shot, according to a report from Reuters. The civilians were killed as they attempted to flee by car during a Russian attack.
Will Russia Target Humanitarian Convoys?
Without humanitarian route agreements in place, Russia’s troops may target convoys of fleeing Ukrainian residents. Even without direct Russian troops directly targeting the convoys, evacuating Ukrainians may still find themselves caught in the crossfire.
Russia has a history of not recognizing humanitarian corridors not just in Ukraine but also in Syria, and the substantial damage done to residential buildings across the country in the last two months indicates that convoys leaving Luhansk could be in danger.
Russia’s Deputy United Nations Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy also reportedly dismissed calls for new humanitarian ceasefire agreements this week, claiming that any such suggestion is an effort to help the Ukrainian military gain advantage over Russian forces.
Polyanskity reportedly said that the calls for new ceasefires “merely point to an aspiration to provide Kyiv nationalists breathing room” and to give Ukrainian soldiers a chance to regroup and take delivery of more weapons from the United States and NATO allies.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.