On 18 February, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics announced the evacuation of their citizens to Russia over an escalation of tensions along the line of contact and the possibility of a full-fledged offensive by the Ukrainian army.
Ukrainian forces shelled multiple settlements in DPR in Ukraine’s southeast, using 120-mm caliber mortars prohibited by the Minsk agreements, the DPR mission to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination on the ceasefire regime (JCCC) said.
Earlier in the night, the DPR mission said that Kiev forces had fired twelve 120-mm caliber mortars at the city of Donetsk and four 122-mm shells at the Donetsk suburb of Oleksandrivka.
The outskirts of Donetsk were also targeted later in the night, with the DPR reporting that Kiev forces had fired four 120-mm caliber mortars at the settlement of Staromykhailivka and twenty four 120-mm caliber mortars at Spartak, another suburb of Donetsk.
The settlement of Zaitseve in the DPR was also shelled.
On 19 February, the authorities of the DPR and the LPR started the evacuation of civilians to Russia. They also announced a general mobilization in the region.
On 17 February, the Ukrainian army launched an attack against the DPR and LPR, with Donbass authorities warning that Ukrainian President Zelensky could order a full-scale offensive against the republics at any time.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2022.