New Delhi: As Russian artillery and air force rolled into Ukraine on Thursday morning Indian time, the Indian Embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv (Kiev) began issuing a series of advisories for Indian citizens, the third of which came at 5.00 pm today, with the Ukraine invasion in full swing. “We are aware that certain places are hearing air sirens/bomb warnings. In case you are faced with such a situation, Google maps has a list of nearby bomb shelters, many of which are located in underground metros,” the embassy said in a statement. For those in Kyiv, the embassy has also provided the official link from the Kyiv city administration.
There are approximately 18,000 Indians staying in Ukraine, the majority of them students. An Air India flight sent for their evacuation took off at 7:30 am today, but had to return after Ukraine closed its airspace for commercial flights.
“Since the air space in Ukraine has been closed, we have stopped the measures to bring back Indians via flights. We are planning alternative measures to bring back Indians. Ministry of External Affairs has decided to send more diplomats to this area to help the Indian Embassy,” said V Muraleedharan, the junior Foreign Minister, as reported by NDTV.
“I spoke to Malayali students in Ukraine on phone. Indian students in the southern areas of Ukraine have told us that they are getting food, water and power. Students and parents should not panic. Our government has brought back Indians even from places like Iraq. The central government will be able to ensure the safety of Indians, there is no doubt about that. The control room has been expanded, more telephone numbers have been given,” Muraleedharan said.
Earlier today, as the Ukraine invasion began, the Indian Embassy asked people to turn away if they were heading to Kyiv and return to the cities they live in.
This morning, in a televised address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was launching military operations against Ukraine. Since then, Moscow has claimed that it destroyed multiple Ukrainian military air bases and air defence systems. Missiles have targeted major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv. Russia’s ground forces have crossed into Ukraine from several directions and explosions were heard from cities along the coast.
On the other hand, Ukraine claims it has killed “around 50 Russian occupiers” while countering an attack on a frontline town with Moscow-backed rebels. In his address, President Putin said the Russian invasion was to defend separatists in eastern Ukraine against “genocide”.
Meanwhile, as the Indian stock market or BSE Sensex tanked by 2,702 points today in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to hold an emergency meeting with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and other officials to discuss the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, media reports said.
The Prime Minister will also discuss ways to mitigate the impact of rising prices of crude oil in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.