A mandatory evacuation order for families with children has been expanded to 26 more villages near Kupiansk in Kharkiv Oblast, Governor Oleh Syniehubov announced on Jan. 16.
The villages fall under the Kindrashivka and Kurylivka settlements, parts of which were already ordered to evacuate in August after Russian forces intensified their attacks in the area of Kupiansk.
The police announced in November that the evacuation of children from these settlements was complete, having helped almost 300 children leave the area with their family members or legal guardians.
Syniehubov said in December that the authorities were considering expanding the evacuation order to cover more settlements, depending on the security situation.
The village of Kindrashivka, which lies just north of Kupiansk, is located just seven kilometers from the front line, while Kurylivka, to the south of Kupiansk, is 12 kilometers from the front.
According to Syniehubov, 3,043 people, including 279 children, live in the villages listed under the new evacuation order.
"All evacuees are provided with housing and support from international humanitarian organizations," Syniehubov said. "️We call on community residents to take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of their children."
Liberated from Russian occupation during Ukraine's counteroffensive in September 2022, Kupiansk has been a critical target for renewed Russian offensives, as it serves as a key logistics hub for a potential push further south or west.
The U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) warned on Jan. 5 that Russian forces may scale up offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast to try to seize Kupiansk in the coming weeks.