Indian nationals hope against hope as Ukraine scene turns grim; Ukraine dissatisfied over India’s stance

As Russia begins military operation in Ukraine, Indian nationals have been left in the lurch.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President’s, military operation in Ukraine has begun, and the world is watching with bated breath on whether it would transform itself into a full scale war in Europe. The action, which has thrown global appeal to Russia to the wind, is appalling and, as NATO described it, is “aggression against a sovereign and independent country”.

As the military operation sees an escalation, the Indian nationals in Ukraine are left in the lurch. Though the Indian embassy in Ukraine has urged Indian nationals to maintain calm and remain safe wherever they are, the situation looks frightening. The closure of the Ukranian airspace for civilian aircraft has prompted Air India flights to return. The embassy has been repeatedly saying that alternative arrangements are being made for evacuation of Indian nationals.

Embassy asks Indian nationals to stay calm

Going by a communique that has been released, the Indian embassy in Ukraine has said: “The present situation in Ukraine is highly uncertain. Please maintain calm and remain safe wherever you are, be it in your homes, hostels, accommodation or in transit.” It followed this up with afresh advisory later asking all those travelling to Kyiv, including those travelling from western parts of Kyiv, to return to their respective cities temporarily, especially towards safer places along the western bordering countries.

Will Indian nationals be able to manage a safe return is the question doing the rounds. New Delhi as maintained that India is trying to find out means to assist its nationals, especially the students, in Ukraine.

As Putin began carrying out his plan for Ukraine, the scenario looks grim. As the invasion began, Ukraine seems to be “deeply disappointed” with India for not having tried to convince Putin to think sensibly. Ukraine envoy Igor Polikha has been quoted as saying that the European country had “pleaded” for India’s intervention in the conflict with Russia. Adding that it had believed that a “strong voice” of India might have made Russian President Vladimir Putin “think”, he said Ukraine is “deeply dissatisfied” on that front.

Ukraine ‘deeply dissatisfied’ as India keeps thinking

India’s stance that it was closely following the development of events has left Ukraine dissatisfied. Even as reports of 50 people being killed in the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Ukraine voiced worry with India’s “closely following” the situation statement. The Ukraine envoy has been quoted by media reports as saying that “when hundreds and thousands will be killed in this case, what will happen? Will follow more closely?”

Pleading for assistance from India, the Ukraine envoy said he had expected India to be more actively engaged in view of its “special, privileged, strategic relation with Russia”.

India, on the other hand, has already said it was deeply concerned and had called for de-escalation of hostilities at the United Nations. The country has also called for an immediate halting of the crisis, warning that the current situation might “spiral into a major crisis” and might severely destabilize the region if the operation was not checked. Media reports quoted TS Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as saying that India calls for “immediate de-escalation and refraining from any further action that could contribute to a worsening of the situation”.

However, Ukraine’s envoy isn’t convinced. According to him, India should be “much more actively engaged, given the privileged relation India has with Russia”. According to him, India’s intervention was needed “not just for our safety, but of your own citizen’s safety too.” Indian nationals numbering around 15,000 currently live in Ukraine. The government has been trying to evacuate all of them before the situation escalates. However, with the airspace over Ukraine closed, no one knows what will happen.

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