“The government has decided to decide on a forced exit from the Donetsk region,” Zelensky underlined, addressing the public in a daily nightly video.
In an appeal to citizens, the Ukrainian head of state urged: “Please withdraw”.
“At this stage of the war, terrorism is Russia’s main weapon,” Zelensky said, referring to Moscow’s attacks on cities in eastern Ukraine, which result in civilian casualties every day.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk announced the mandatory evacuation of the entire population of Donetsk region, one of two administrative regions in the Donbass region, which is partially controlled by Kiev.
Irina Vereshchuk justified this decision by the destruction of gas networks and the lack of heat in the region next winter.
According to Ukrainian officials, Moscow launched attacks in several cities in Ukraine early Saturday morning.
Russian missiles hit a school campus in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv overnight, followed by another attack an hour later, Mayor Ihor Derekov explained.
A bus station in the city of Sloviansk was also hit, according to Vadim Liak, the city’s mayor, who is on the front lines of the battle as Russian and separatist forces try to take full control of the Donetsk region.
In southern Ukraine, an explosion hit a residential area in the important port city of Mykolaiv, killing one person and wounding six others, the region’s administration said via social network Facebook.
The attacks were in addition to Friday’s destruction of a prison in Donetsk, where 50 Ukrainian prisoners were killed, and which prompted mutual accusations between Kiev and Moscow over responsibility for the bombing.
Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine in February that has killed more than 5,100 civilians, according to the UN, which warns that the true number could be much higher.
The Russian invasion was generally condemned by the international community, which responded by sending arms to Ukraine and strengthening economic and political sanctions on Moscow.