Marina, who did not want to reveal her family name out of fear for her safety, is one of those.
She decided to stay in her hometown of Kramatorsk, about 10 miles from the front lines, although there were means to escape to Kyiv or even western Ukraine, away from the active fighting.
She said the prospect of having to collect rainwater for drinking or use wood for heating did not frighten her or others “guided by hope”.
She’s also wary of signing the form. “First of all I will sit down and read it carefully,” Marina, 60, said on the phone from Kramatorsk, where she has lived all her life.
“I believe in God and I believe in the Ukrainian army,” she added. “This is my destiny.”
Analysts said Ukraine is keen to get people out of the area to reduce civilian casualties and give it more operational freedom.
Michael Clarke, professor of war studies at King’s College London, said Kyiv intends to launch a fierce defense of the major cities of Slaviansk and Kramatorsk.
Clark said that the Ukrainian army hoped to achieve a strategic victory in the Russian-occupied south, where it is expected to launch a counterattack. Clark said that in order for any success there to have political impact, the rest must not lose Donbass.
Logistically, the evacuations give Ukrainians more freedom to defend or leave the city without having to take civilians into account, said the head of intelligence at Le Beck consultancy, Michael A. Horowitz, a geopolitical and security analyst.
“The Ukrainians also demanded that people evacuate from the beginning, and the presence of civilians made the job of the Ukrainian army more difficult,” Horowitz said.
“So Zelensky’s order may just be an escalation in efforts to remove civilians from what has become the main combat zone,” Horowitz said.
Ukrainian forces have exposed civilians to Russian attacks at times by stationing themselves in schools, apartment buildings and elsewhere in populated areas, human rights group Amnesty International said in a highly criticized report published on Thursday.
Zelensky denounced the report, as did other officials in Kyiv and his allies via social media.
Amnesty said in a statement that it had made clear that “the Ukrainian military practices we described do not in any way justify Russia’s routine violations of international humanitarian law.”
When we find violations of international humanitarian law, as we did in this case, we will report them fairly and accurately. Ignoring abuses by the preferred side will not be meaningful reports on human rights.
Oleksandr Ivanov, a volunteer with a local aid organization helping with evacuations, told NBC News that people want to stay for a variety of reasons.
“Many people cannot leave their elderly parents,” Ivanov said. For the elderly, it is psychologically difficult to leave. And of course, there are people who think that they will not leave until a shell falls on their house. ”
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