“Once there are less people, we will be able to concentrate more on our enemy and perform our main tasks,” Kyrylenko said.

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in seizing an eastern Ukraine province essential to his wartime aims, his troops escalated their offensive in the neighboring province Tuesday, prompting the governor to urge more than a quarter-million residents to evacuate, reports the AP.

Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said that getting the 350,000 people remaining in Donetsk province out is necessary to save lives and to enable the Ukrainian army to better defend towns from the Russian advance.

“The destiny of the whole country will be decided by the Donetsk region,” Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko told reporters in Kramatrosk, the province’s administrative center and home to the Ukrainian military’s regional headquarters.

“Once there are less people, we will be able to concentrate more on our enemy and perform our main tasks,” Kyrylenko said.

Another Donetsk city in the path of Moscow’s offensive came under sustained bombardment Tuesday.

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