More than 26,000 people have been evacuated to Russia over the past 24 hours from dangerous areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) and Ukraine, head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, who also leads Russia's humanitarian response coordination headquarters, said.
"Over the past day, without participation of the Ukrainian authorities, 26,079 people, including 4,500 children, were evacuated to the territory of the Russian Federation from dangerous areas of Ukraine and the Donbas republics," Col. Gen. Mizintsev said at a briefing.
He added that since the start of Russia's special military operation, more than 3.44 million people, including over 540,000 children, have been evacuated to Russia.
Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24 in response to calls by the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics for protection from Ukrainian troops. The Russian Defense Ministry said the goal of the operation, which targets Ukrainian military infrastructure, is to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine, and to completely liberate Donbas.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the operation aims to "protect people subjected to genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." As of March 25, the Russian Armed Forces completed the main tasks of the first stage, significantly reducing the combat potential of Ukraine. Western nations have imposed numerous sanctions on Russia and have been supplying weapons to Ukraine.