Ukrainian authorities urged people to stay at home and not panic after Russia began a 'military operation' in eastern Ukraine.

More than more than 90,000 civilians have been evacuated and settled in the 15 regions of Russia.
More than more than 90,000 civilians have been evacuated and settled in the 15 regions of Russia. (AA)

Across Ukraine's vulnerable eastern front civilians and soldiers have scrambled to react as one of the world's most powerful militaries began what authorities warned was a "full-scale invasion".

Residents in Ukraine's Donbas region described the situation as "terrifying" amid Russian strikes.

Civilian evacuations began on February 18 and continue in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under the control of pro-Russian separatists in Donbas.

More than 90,000 civilians have been evacuated and settled in the 15 regions of Russia, including Moscow.

Ukrainian authorities urged people to stay at home, urging them not to panic.
Ukrainian authorities urged people to stay at home, urging them not to panic. (Reuters)

Arkadyy, a resident of Kramatorsk city, said that he hoped that the situation will get better soon.

Despite hearing periodic explosions, he said he was going to work.

People were seen queuing at ATM machines to withdraw cash.

The city's skies echoed with the sounds of fighter jets.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities urged people to stay at home, urging them not to panic.

Ukraine's Interior Ministry announced that Russia's "invasion has begun" with missile strikes on the capital city of Kiev.

Civilian evacuations continue in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under the control of pro-Russian separatists in Donbas.
Civilian evacuations continue in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under the control of pro-Russian separatists in Donbas. (Reuters)

Residents take shelter

Kiev's main international airport was hit in the first bombing of the city since the Second World War and air raid sirens sounded over the capital at the break of dawn.

"I woke up because of the sounds of bombing. I packed a bag and tried to escape. We are sitting here, waiting," said Maria Kashkoska, as she sheltered inside the Kyiv metro station.

Ksenya Michenka looked deeply shaken as she took cover with her teenage son. 

"We need to save our lives," she said.

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Civilians arrive in Russian capital Moscow after Russia’s decision to recognize the Donetsk region as an independent state.
Civilians arrive in Russian capital Moscow after Russia’s decision to recognize the Donetsk region as an independent state. (AA)

'Hope the war will spare us'

Teenager Anastasia clutched her grey cat as she watched her grandfather in a wheelchair being loaded onto a minibus waiting to rush them to a nearby village. 

"We could never have expected this. We're going to the village, we hope the war will spare us there," she said. 

Some 300 kilometres to the south in key port city of Mariupol - close to the frontline where Russia-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine - authorities were rushing to evacuate civilians as fighting raged. 

Local official Alexiy Babchenko said they were starting to move people out of two areas to the nearest railway station - but the violence was too heavy to begin in another location.  

"It is under heavy artillery," he said.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies