Indian embassy asks nationals to leave Kyiv today, IAF to be roped in for speedy evacaution

Malayali students in a bunker in Ukraine
Malayali students in a bunker in Ukraine

New Delhi: The Indian embassy at Ukraine has asked its nationals to evacuate Kyiv immediately in an advisory issued on Tuesday.

"All Indian nationals including students are advised to leave kyiv urgently today. Preferably by available trains or through any other means available," the embassy said in the latest directive to Indians in Kyiv.

After the weekend curfew was lifted in Kyiv, the embassy had asked the students in Ukraine to make way to the railway stations for onward journey.

The students were asked to carry their passport, sufficient cash, ready to eat meals, winter clothing and only essential items. 

IAF roped in for evacuation efforts

Air India flight
Indian nationals at the start of their journey to Mumbai from Bucharest. Photo: Twitter/Dr. S. Jaishankar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Indian Air Force (IAF) to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine due to the Russian military offensive against that country, sources said on Tuesday.

The IAF is likely to deploy several C-17 aircraft as part of Operation Ganga from Tuesday, they said.

Till now, only private Indian carriers were evacuating Indians from Romania and Hungary, countries with land borders with Ukraine on the western side, as the Ukrainian airspace had been shut since February 24.

India began evacuation of around 14,000 of its stranded citizens on February 26.

In order to scale up the ongoing evacuation efforts under Operational Ganga, PM Modi has called for the IAF to join the exercise, the sources said.

Leveraging the capacities of the IAF will ensure that more people can be evacuated in a shorter time frame, they noted.

The large C-17 aircraft will also help deliver humanitarian aid to war-hit Ukraine more efficiently, they mentioned.

Over 3,000 Keralite students still stranded in Ukraine

As many as 3,493 Keralite students are still stranded in the war-torn Ukraine even as the airlift by the Government of India entered the third day. This is the official figure of those who have registered with the the state government agency NORKA for help. 

The Government of India has deputed Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Hardeep Singh Puri, Kiran Rijiju and VK Singh to coordinate the ongoing mission to bring back the stranded Indians from Ukraine.

Those who were stranded in Ukraine's western part would be first brought to any of the neighbouring countries such as Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Moldova, and then to India. The Indian Embassy has now set up a camp on the Moldova border.

But the attempt to rescue those who were stranded in the eastern Ukraine, where there is is fierce battle going on between Russian and Ukraine forces, are getting delayed. 

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi informed the media that around 1,400 persons have been already rescued and brought back to India. They included 48 students hailing from Kerala. 

SpiceJet, IndiGo and Air India Express have also joined the evacuation mission named Operation Ganga.  

(With PTI inputs.)

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