Separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine declare full military mobilization

MOSCOW, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Russian-backed separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine declared a full military mobilization on Saturday, a day after ordering women and children to evacuate to southern Russia because of what they said was the threat of conflict.

Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said in a video statement that he had signed a decree on mobilization and called on men “able to hold a weapon in their hands” to come to military commissariats.

Another separatist leader, Leonid Pasechnik, signed a similar decree for the Luhansk People’s Republic shortly afterwards.

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Separatist authorities on Friday announced plans to evacuate around 700,000 people, citing fears of an imminent attack by Ukrainian forces – an accusation Kyiv flatly denied.

Less than 7,000 people had been evacuated from Donetsk as of Saturday morning, the local emergencies ministry said.

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday it had recorded 12 ceasefire violations by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in the morning after 66 cases in the previous 24 hours.

Separatist authorities also reported what they said was shelling by Ukrainian forces of several villages on Saturday.

Both sides regularly trade blame for ceasefire violations.

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Reporting by Maria Kiselyova Editing by Andrew Osborn

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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