• Thursday, December 08, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Putin to Modi: Russia ‘doing everything’ to evacuate Indians from Sumy

Russian president Vladimir Putin (Photo: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin on Monday (7) assured Indian prime minister Narendra Modi that his forces are “doing everything” to evacuate stranded Indian citizens from the war-torn eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, according to his office.

During a 50-minute telephonic conversation with Putin, Modi conveyed his “deep concern” over the safety and security of the Indian students stuck in Sumy and sought their evacuation at the earliest.

Around 700 Indian students are stranded in Sumy amid intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops and India has been urging both sides to create a “humanitarian corridor” for their safe evacuation.

“It has been noted that the Indian students who were held by the radicals in Kharkov managed to leave the city only as a result of strong international pressure on the Kiev authorities,” the state-owned TASS news agency reported, citing the Kremlin.

Modi thanked the Russian side “for the measures taken to ensure the return of his compatriots to their homeland,” the Kremlin added.

The Indian prime minister had earlier on Monday spoken to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and sought his support in the evacuation of Indian students from Sumy.

On Saturday (5), Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi that India’s main focus was on evacuating the students from Sumy and that the safe exit of Indians from Kharkiv and Pisochyn was “almost complete”.

“We are deeply concerned about Indian students in Sumy, Ukraine. Have strongly pressed Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire to create a safe corridor for our students,” Bagchi said.

Bagchi also said the main challenge remains the ongoing shelling and violence in Sumy and lack of transportation.

Last week, the Indian students in Sumy had posted videos saying they have decided to leave for the Russian border and that the Indian government and the embassy in Ukraine would be responsible if anything happened to them.

Following the embassy’s assurance, the students did not leave the eastern Ukrainian city.

Putin told Modi that Ukrainian nationalists “continue to prevent the withdrawal of civilians from dangerous zones,” the Kremlin said.

“Vladimir Putin informed the Prime Minister of India that, given the aggravation of the humanitarian situation, the Russian Armed Forces announced the introduction of a regime of silence today and the opening of humanitarian corridors,” it said.

Asked about Putin’s comments on Thursday (3) that some Indians are being held hostage by Ukrainian forces, Bagchi had on Friday (4) said India did not have any such information or reports.

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