By: Pramod Thomas
INDIA on Thursday (24) called for an immediate de-escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine as president Vladimir Putin launched a ‘military operation’ in eastern Ukraine.
India also warned that the situation is in danger of spiralling into a major crisis.
Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast on Thursday, officials and media said.
The 15-nation UN security council held an emergency meeting on Ukraine late Wednesday (23) night, the second meeting this week and the fourth since January 31.
India’s permanent representative to the UN T S Tirumurti told the council that New Delhi had emphasised sustained and focused diplomacy to address all issues concerning the situation.
“However, we note with regret that the calls of the international community to give time to the recent initiatives undertaken by parties to diffuse tensions were not heeded to,” he said.
“We believe that the solution lies in sustained diplomatic dialogue between the concerned parties. In the meantime, we strongly emphasise the vital need for all sides to maintain international peace and security by exercising the utmost restraint.”
Tirumurti also underlined that more than 20,000 Indian nationals, including students, are located in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas.
“We are facilitating the return of all Indian nationals, including Indian students, as required,” he said.
India called on all parties to exert greater efforts to bridge divergent interests. Tirumurti pointed out that the legitimate security interests of all parties should be fully taken into account.
India explores alternate evacuation routes
The Indian embassy in Ukraine told Indian nationals that the schedule for special flights to Kyiv were cancelled as the country’s airspace was closed.
“Alternative arrangements are being made for the evacuation of Indian nationals,” the embassy said on Twitter.
An Air India flight going to Ukraine turned back for Delhi Thursday morning, reported NDTV.
Sources said high-level meetings are going on at the ministry of external affairs to work out contingency plans and find alternate evacuation routes for thousands of Indian citizens living in Ukraine.
More Russian-speaking officials have been sent to India’s embassy in Ukraine and are being deployed in countries neighbouring Ukraine, NDTV report added.
The Indian embassy warned that citizens “travelling to Kyiv, including those travelling from western parts of Kyiv, are advised to return to their respective cities temporarily, especially towards safer places along with the western bordering countries.
“The present situation in Ukraine is highly uncertain. Please maintain calm and remain safe wherever you are, be it in your homes, hostels, accommodations or in transit,” said the Indian embassy.