India on Saturday said its focus now was on the evacuation of around 700 Indian students stranded in the Ukrainian city of Sumy that has been witnessing bombing and airstrikes.
At a media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “India hopes to evacuate its citizens from Kharkiv and Pisochyn at the earliest. Our focus is now on evacuating Indian students from Sumy. We are exploring multiple options for their evacuation.”
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting amid SOS messages and viral videos by Indian students stuck in Sumy. The meeting is learnt to have discussed options available to rescue students trapped in extreme weather conditions in the war zone.
Washington: US Vice-President Kamala Harris will travel to Poland and Romania next week to unite her European allies against Russian aggression. She is scheduled to travel to Warsaw (Poland) and Bucharest (Romania) from March 9 to 11.
Bagchi reiterated India’s call to Russia and Ukraine to go for a local ceasefire so that Indians could be moved out of conflict zones. “Our challenge in the evacuation of the Indians from Sumy is the ongoing shelling and violence and lack of transportation,” he said.
Fresh reports suggest that 21 Indian sailors are stuck at a Ukrainian port. They are reported to be safe and in regular touch with their families. Sources said Russia stepped up shelling as it began encircling Kyiv and Kharkiv even as the collapse of ceasefire in Mariupol cast a shadow on Indian efforts for temporary stoppage of evacuation operations in Sumy.
Russia’s announcement of creating a humanitarian corridor near Mariupol and Volnovakha, which have been encircled by its troops, failed to materialise amidst mutual recriminations. The Mariupol city council blamed Russia for not observing the ceasefire, but Moscow said the fascists-controlled city council was keeping back civilians as human shields.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the destruction of Ukraine’s military infrastructure was almost complete. Russia has claimed to have destroyed 82 Ukrainian aircraft, 708 armoured vehicles, 74 multiple rocket launchers and 56 drones.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pushed NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you” as Russian forces were battering strategic locations in Ukraine.
NATO has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorised aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, continued his travel in countries around Russia, drumming up support for its further isolation.