Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting this evening to discuss the situation in war-torn Ukraine, immediately after his return from Uttar Pradesh where he has gone for election campaign, sources have told NDTV. Around 16,000 Indian nationals, most of them students, have been trapped in Ukraine, which has been reeling under Russian invasion since Thursday.
The Prime Minister last held a meeting with the Cabinet Committee of Security on Thursday evening, where he underscored the need to focus on bringing the Indian nationals home safely.
He later spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well, calling for “immediate cessation of violence” and stressing that India attaches the “highest priority” to the safe exit and return of its citizens from Ukraine.
A Russian readout of the conversation said PM Modi “thanked President Putin for the clarification and asked for assistance in ensuring the security of Indian citizens currently in Ukraine”. President Putin said “necessary instructions” would be given, the Russian statement had added.
The evacuation of Indians has been going at a slow pace, given the closure of airspace over Ukraine. Over the last days, students have been evacuated on flights from Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Romania — nations which share border with Ukraine. Many trudged miles in the freezing cold to reach the borders.
Today, addressing an election rally in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, PM Modi said India “left no stone unturned to bring our citizens back… (from) wherever there is trouble.
“By running Operation Ganga, we are bringing back thousands of Indians home. Our sons, daughters still stranded in Ukraine will be brought back. The government is working day and night for them,” he said.
Russia started military operations against Ukraine on Thursday morning after months of tension over the former Soviet republic’s proximity to NATO.
There are still around 16,000 Indian students still stranded in Ukraine. Many have made desperate appeals for help, sharing photos and videos on social media from underground metro stations and basements, where they have been sheltering from Russian bombs and missiles.