India tells diplomats’ kin, other nationals to leave Ukraine

Striking a note of urgency, India Sunday asked the family members of Embassy officials in Ukraine — as well as students and citizens whose stay is not vital — to leave the eastern European nation amid its rising tensions with Russia.

The directions to students and other nationals came from the Indian Embassy in Kyiy on Sunday. This is its second advisory in a week and has a stronger tone than the previous one — citing “high levels” of tensions and uncertainties.

“In view of the continued high levels of tensions and uncertainties with respect to the situation in Ukraine, all Indian nationals whose stay is not deemed essential and all Indian students, are advised to leave Ukraine temporarily,” the Embassy said.

It said available commercial flights and charter flights may be availed of for travel for an “orderly and timely departure” from Ukraine.

“Indian students are advised to also get in touch with respective student contractors for updates on charter flights, and also continue to follow E embassy Facebook, website and Twitter for any update,” the Embassy said.

Hours after this, sources said the kin of Embassy officials were asked to return to India.

The previous Embassy advisory, issued on February 15, asked citizens, especially students, to leave Ukraine temporarily amid “uncertainties” and avoid non-essential travel to and within the country.

The statement from the Embassy of India in Kyiv had read: “In view of the uncertainties of the current situation in Ukraine, Indian nationals in Ukraine, particularly students whose stay is not essential, may consider leaving temporarily. Indian nationals are also advised to avoid all non-essential travel to and within Ukraine.

“Indian nationals are requested to keep the Embassy informed about the status of their presence in Ukraine to enable the Embassy to reach them where required. The Embassy continues to function normally to provide all services to Indian nationals in Ukraine,” it had said.

Sunday’s move to get family members of Embassy officials out comes amid concerns that Russia could invade Kyiv soon.

Though Moscow denies it has any plans to invade Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have amassed well over 1,30,000 troops near the Ukrainian borders. The US has warned Russia of severe consequences if it carries out the invasion.

While the Indian Embassy in Kyiv’s own estimates from 2020 says that there are about 18,000 Indian students in Ukraine, the Indian envoy at the UN last month put that number at 20,000.

The majority of them study in medical colleges in Ukraine, which has been a popular destination for the last couple of decades.

Sunday’s new advisory makes it clear that those whose presence is not required in Ukraine should leave the country. This also means that since the Kyiv airport is still functional and regular commercial flights are still operating from Ukraine, Indian citizens should make use of the opportunity. The government had facilitated more flights operated by Air India from Ukraine to India.

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