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Thousands flee Ukraine for Russia amid violence

 
 
 
 
 
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Thousands of people in the conflict-torn regions of Ukraine have fled the ongoing violence to neighboring Russia.

Several towns in eastern Ukraine have suffered daily shelling and violent clashes between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian forces in recent weeks.

Media reports say at least 5,000 people had fled the conflict zone by Thursday evening.

Footage from one border crossing in the eastern Lugansk region shows cars packed up with stuff, forming very long lines at the crossing. The border crossings between Russia and Ukraine are busy as a ceasefire in Ukraine’s east is drawing to an end.

The rush also comes as the weeklong truce, which has been in force since June 20, will expire on Friday.

On June 20, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko announced the ceasefire plan aimed at curbing the violence in the restive east.

Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, accepted the ceasefire, saying that it will be observed until June 27.

Meanwhile, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine.

Merkel called Putin on Thursday and the two leaders discussed the worsening humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine and emphasized the need for extending the weeklong ceasefire.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking parts in the east have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia activists and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in mid-April in a bid to crush the pro-Russia protests.

The violence intensified after the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held local referendums on May 11, in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine. The referendums echoed a March vote in Crimea that led to the reunification of the peninsula with the Russian Federation.

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