The separatist’s call to mobilize came ahead of large-scale drills involving nuclear forces overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Background: Separatists with Moscow’s support have been fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The different factions control an enclave roughly the size of New Jersey within Ukraine that supports a population of around 2 million Russian-speakers, many of whom hold Russian passports.
The Details: The separatists are evacuating citizens of their enclaves to Russia due to a spike in shelling in the area. Ukraine’s military said a solider was killed by shrapnel as a result of one of the blasts and denies that their forces are involved, accusing Russia of staging false flag attacks. The moves continue to stoke fear that Russia will use the fighting as a pretext to invade Ukraine.
Separatists from the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and neighboring “Luhansk People’s Republic” signed decrees and urged reservists to show up at military enlistment offices. Men are not being allowed to board evacuation buses headed for Russia.
Putin’s Show of Force: The Kremlin said Russia successfully test-launched hypersonic and cruise missiles at sea during military exercises. Putin observed the exercises with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko from a situation room.