/ Go to the photo bankDONETSK (Sputnik) – Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said on Friday that a mass evacuation of the population to Russia has been organised over the threat of Ukrainian invasion.”When the enemy shelling the settlements of the republic, the life and health of our citizens may be endangered. Therefore, from today, February 18, a mass centralised evacuation of the population to the Russian Federation has been organised. First of all, women, children and the elderly will be evacuated,” Pushilin said in a video address. The DPR head added that facilities that will host the population are ready in Russia’s Rostov region “as agreed with Russian authorities.””The evacuees will be provided with everything they need. All conditions have been created at the checkpoints for a quick transition,” Pushilin said.The head of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Leonid Pasechnik, has said that Ukrainian forces have been planning to break into the republic and urged residents to evacuate to Russia. “In order to prevent civilian casualties, I call on residents of the republics who do not have orders to be on alert, and who are not involved in the life support of social and civilian infrastructure, to go to the Russian Federation as soon as possible,” Pasechnik said.He also asked all men who are able to hold weapons to defend the republic. Children care homes and schools from the LPR will be evacuated to Russia, the head of the republic’s education ministry said. Lugansk Suburbs Shelled in Ukrainian Military Attacks Overnight, Self-Proclaimed Republic Says18 February, 04:53 GMTThe situation on the contact line between Ukraine and the DPR and LPR has worsened in the past 24 hours after Kiev stepped up attacks on the territories of the self-proclaimed republics. Earlier, the LPR mission to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire Regime said that the Ukrainian forces had shelled the LPR 29 times in the past 24 hours, and heavy weaponry had been used in the attacks including 122 mm artillery systems, large-calibre mortars, and anti-tank guided missiles. Tensions in the area flared up shortly after Russia started withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine to their permanent deployment sites after military exercises. Despite reports of Russian troops’ withdrawal from the border, the West has continued to ramp up its “Russian aggression” rhetoric, saying that Moscow, on the contrary, has been sending even more forces to the border with Ukraine.