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Amid border row, India reaches out to nationals in Ukraine

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, January 18, 2022. Russia has concentrated an estimated 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine in what the West fears could be a prelude to an invasion

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, January 18, 2022. Russia has concentrated an estimated 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine in what the West fears could be a prelude to an invasion | Photo Credit: AP

India maintained a studied silence on the developing Ukraine situation on Saturday even as western powers called for evacuation of their citizens from various locations in the country. The Hindu has, however, learned that the Embassy of India in Kyiv has been contacting Indian citizens based in Ukraine and collecting information those who may require evacuation in case a conflict flares up between Russia and Ukraine. 

“Three weeks back, the Indian Embassy in Kyiv began to contact us on email and sent us a form to be filled up. The form contains details like our location in Ukraine, and other relevant information which may be used in case a quick mobilisation of Indian citizens in Ukraine is required,” said Shivam Dubey who is studying medicine in Ternopil. Ternopil, located in western Ukraine, is far from the eastern border region of Donbas where largescale mobilisation of military personnel and heavy weapons has taken place on the Russian side. Western officials have been maintaining that Russia has encircled Ukraine both from the east, north and the Black Sea coast. Russia and Belarus have been conducting a military exercise in the north of Ukraine.

The U.S. and the United Kingdom have asked citizens to leave Ukraine at the earliest, maintaining that an invasion from Russia is imminent. The Ministry of External Affairs did not respond to The Hindu’s question on whether India planned a similar move following the U.S. and the UK. Mr. Dubey, however, said there is no sense of panic among the people of Ukraine regarding an invasion as of now. Ukrainian diplomatic sources have called for calm and indicated that media reports and talks of a possible invasion by Russia are exaggerated. 

Mr Dubey, who spoke over the phone, said normal life continues to be unaffected by the military build-up along the borders with Russia but observed that Ukraine has been readying its people for resisting Russian forces. Kyiv has asked willing citizens to volunteer for armed services and many individuals have joined the armed forces in preparation for a possible military conflict with Russia, he said. A conflict in eastern Ukraine has the potential to displace a vast number of people from the country. The outreach by the Indian Embassy in Kyiv indicates that New Delhi has been making an initial assessment for the resources that may be required to evacuate nationals. 

Available information suggests that most of the Indian students are located in western Ukraine though it is possible that some are also located closer to the eastern front and near the Black Sea coast which has significant Russian naval build up. Ukraine with its high-quality medical colleges has been a destination of choice for medical aspirants from India and the country has more than 10,000 Indian students at present, said Mr Dubey. In addition, there are also Indian professionals working in the country. 

In recent years, India has carried out several evacuation operations from war-torn or pandemic affected locations in the world like Yemen, South Sudan, and Iran, with thousands of Indians being sent home by aircraft or ships. 


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 8:08:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/amid-border-row-india-reaches-out-to-nationals-in-ukraine/article65041299.ece