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DONETSK (Rostov Region), June 22. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian refugees have told Baisa Vak-Voya, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Russia, that they were forced to pack their things in haste and cross the border to Russia using byways to later arrive at the border-crossing point and formalize documents.
Vak-Voya on Sunday visited a tent camp for refugees deployed in the town of Donetsk in the southern Russian Rostov Region near the border with Ukraine.
“We live in the village of Vlasovka of the Lugansk Region [in eastern Ukraine]. They called us and said that combat activities may start in 20 minutes, so we need to leave quickly,” Ukrainian residents Lyudmila and Irina Dmitriyeva said.
“We packed our things real fast, took children and crossed the border to Russia in an illegal place - across a river, kind of a passage leading to the Russian village of Peschanovka. After we crossed, we went to the border-crossing point to formalize documents and have now settled in the tent camp,” they said.
Vak-Voya said he sees no problem with such a way of border crossing in the current circumstances. The main thing is that the refugees managed to arrive at the checkpoint, the UN representative said.
A Kiev-led army operation against federalization supporters in Ukraine’s southeastern regions that involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation has already killed hundreds of people, including civilians, left some buildings destroyed and damaged and forced tens of thousands to cross the border from Ukraine to Russia.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a ceasefire in Ukraine’s embattled Southeast from 22:00 local time (23:00 Moscow Time, or 19:00 GMT) June 20 until 10:00 local time June 27. He also presented a peace plan to settle the situation during his first working trip to the eastern Donetsk Region.
But Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), told Itar-Tass on Saturday that the ceasefire does not work because “artillery fire and aviation strikes against [the city of] Slavyansk resumed in the morning of June 21.”
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which border on Russia, held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine. South Ossetia recognized the independence of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) on June 18. No other countries have followed suit yet.