Indians told to leave Ukraine temporarily
India on Tuesday asked its nationals in Ukraine, especially students, to consider leaving and to avoid non-essential travel within the eastern European country amid persisting tensions over the build-up of Russian troops on the border and fears of an imminent invasion.
There are more than 20,000 Indians in Ukraine, including professionals, businessmen and some 18,000 students. Some students have expressed concern about the uncertainty prevailing in Ukraine during recent interactions with Indian TV news channels.
An advisory issued by the Indian embassy in Kyiv said: “In view of the uncertainties of the current situation in Ukraine, Indian nationals in Ukraine, particularly students whose stay is not essential, may consider leaving temporarily.”
It added, “Indian nationals are also advised to avoid all non-essential travel to and within Ukraine.”
The statement called on Indians to keep the embassy informed about the “status of their presence in Ukraine to enable the embassy to reach them when required”. The embassy “continues to function normally to provide all services to Indian nationals in Ukraine” it added.
India has so far refrained from criticising Russia’s actions along the border with Ukraine in view of the close strategic relations between New Delhi and Moscow. However, it has pushed for a peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine through sustained diplomatic efforts.
People familiar with the matter said there are no plans as of now for evacuating Indian nationals though measures had been put in place to deal with all contingencies.
“Flights are operating and those who want to, can return,” one of the people cited above said.
Both Indian and Ukrainian carriers are operating flights under an air bubble arrangement, though some airlines such as KLM have cancelled flights to Ukraine since last week.
The Indian embassy in Kyiv is also working to gather details of all the Indian nationals. Most of the Indian students in Ukraine are enrolled in medical and engineering courses.
Tuesday’s advisory was issued against the backdrop of repeated warnings from US officials in recent days that Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine as early as Wednesday. Secretary of state Antony Blinken has said the US is closing its embassy in Kyiv and relocating the remaining diplomatic personnel to the city of Lviv, which is closer to the Polish border.