East of Ukraine under attack, ‘time running out to flee’



The ongoing conflict involving Russia and Ukraine – with Russian President Vladimir Putin launching a full-scale invasion on 24 February – stems back to the 1950s with the transfer of Crimea.

The invasion of Ukraine – said to be the largest military attack in Europe since World War II – is an escalation of the 2014 Russo-Ukrainian war, when the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity (Maidan Revolution) ousted then-President Viktor Yanukovych.

Now in 2022, President Vladimir Putin questioned Ukraine’s right to statehood and accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) of threatening Russia’s security.

Russia-Ukraine war: 7 April 2022

Time running out

A Ukrainian official in the east of the county warned residents remaining there Thursday that time was running out to flee mounting Russian attacks, saying the entire region was under attack.

“These few days may be the last chance to leave,” Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday wrote to residents on Facebook.

“All cities of the Lugansk region are under enemy fire. One person was killed as a result of shelling this morning in Kreminna,” he added, referring to a town in the region with a population of around 20,000 people.

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Latest updates

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Russo-Ukrainian War

The transfer from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (SFSR) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), at the time described as a symbolic gesture, led to the re-establishment of Crimean autonomy in the early 1990s.

Then in 2014, the focus was once again on Crimea and parts of Donbas during the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity, resulting in the regions being internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

At the time, the Euromaidan protests resulted in the removal of President Viktor Yanukovych on 22 February 2014.

In response, Russian soldiers surrounded and seized control of Crimea, defying the referendum of 1991.

Uprisings in Donbas turned into a full-blown war to control Donetsk and Luhansk.

A stalemate eventually ensued after repeated failed attempts at a seize fire.

After marathon talks between US and Chinese officials, Washington also expressed concern about “alignment” between Russia and China.

The discussions come after reports Moscow is seeking military and economic support from Beijing. While declining to address the reports directly, China accused Washington of spreading “disinformation” about its role in the conflict.

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Additional reporting by AFP, Cheryl Kahla and Gareth Cotterell.