Ukraine ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Kindrashivka and Kurylivka settlements near Kupyansk in northeastern Ukraine, citing concerns over the “security situation” as fear of a renewed Russian offensive loomed.

All families with children in a dozen villages around the settlements were ordered to evacuate. It is believed that the evacuation will allow Ukraine to deploy troops in the area to bolster its defense ahead of the expected Kremlin offensive.

“We call on community residents to take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of their children,” said Oleg Sinegubov, head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, in an announcement on Telegram.

Sinegubov said all of those being evacuated would receive “housing and support from international humanitarian organizations.”

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It’s estimated that 3,043 people live in those settlements, where 279 of them are children.

Kupyansk is located approximately 60 km from the Russian border in the Kharkiv region. It was captured by Russian forces at the offset of the full-scale invasion and liberated by Ukraine in September 2022 in a surprise counteroffensive.

In an update on Jan. 14, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that Russian forces were “preparing to launch a new offensive in the coming weeks once the ground freezes in eastern and southern Ukraine,” citing Russian sources.

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According to the sources, the new large-scale offensive is expected to take place between Jan. 12 and Feb. 2, but ISW believed that Russia “will be unable to make operationally significant breakthroughs.”

Russia has been trying to recapture Kupyansk since September 2022, with some believing that Moscow aimed to recapture the city ahead of its March presidential election to bolster support for incumbent President Vladimir Putin.

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