New Delhi: Russia will investigate the death of 21-year-old Indian medical student Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar in Ukraine’s Kharkiv, Russian Ambassador-designate Denis Alipov has said. Naveen, a fourth-year student at Kharkiv National Medical University, was killed during intense Russian shelling of the east Ukraine city, when he left his bunker to get food. Eyewitnesses have said that the Russians blew up a nearby government building, though India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said the circumstances of Naveen’s death are not absolutely clear.
“I want to express our sympathy to the family of Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar and to the entire Indian nation over the tragedy,” Alipov was quoted as saying by PTI. “Russia will do everything it possibly can to ensure the safety of Indian citizens in the areas of intense conflict… and a proper investigation of this unfortunate incident.”
There have been more than 350 civilian casualties in Ukraine since Russian forces invaded the country on February 24 after months of tension over Ukraine’s proximity to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On Monday, a UN human rights monitoring team confirmed 376 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 94 deaths, after three days of clashes. A UN report said the fighting had triggered “severe humanitarian consequences” and that casualties could be considerably higher, news agency Reuters has reported.
The number of fatalities increased as Russia went for an all-out offensive with a large number of troops, bombs and rockets targeted at the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and its second largest city, Kharkiv.
India has asked envoys of both Russia and Ukraine to ensure “urgent safe passage” to Indian nationals stranded in Kharkiv and other conflict zones. “We have absolutely, strongly and emphatically asked them (the Russian and Ukrainian envoys) to create the safe passage. But there is a war going on and we will have to make the best of the situation so that we can find a way,” Shringla said.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that if a third World War happened, it would involve nuclear weapons and it would be destructive. According to a Reuters report, Lavrov said Russia would face a “real danger” if Kyiv acquired nuclear weapons, adding it would not allow the latter to acquire them.
This came amid Russia’s claims that its military had taken control of territory around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant as diplomats held an emergency meeting to voice their mounting safety concerns. On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed his country’s nuclear deterrent forces on special alert.