Last major Indian group exits Ukrainian city, heading home

After a harrowing two weeks, Indian students stranded in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy have finally moved towards Poltava in the central part of the country, from where they will be taken in trains to Ukraine’s western border.

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The last big group of Indians being evacuated from Ukraine, they will be flown home from one of the neighbouring countries in the next couple of days.

The government, in another advisory Tuesday, asked stranded Indians in Ukraine to make use of the humanitarian corridors as an announcement of the next such corridor is “uncertain”.

The evacuation from Sumy, announced by Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, was a challenging exercise given the volatile situation in the region near the Russian border. It came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and sought their support for safe and quick evacuation of Indians from Sumy.

The return of students from Sumy, located 350 km east of Kyiv and 180 km northwest of Kharkiv, will be a high point of Operation Ganga mounted by the government to fly home Indians stranded in Ukraine following the Russian invasion on February 24. So far, 83 flights have brought back over 17,100 Indians.

In New Delhi, Puri said the evacuation of 694 Indian students stuck in Sumy had begun. “Last night, I checked with the control room, 694 Indian students were remaining in Sumy. Today, they have all left in buses for Poltava,” he said.

Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said, “Happy to inform you that we have been able to move out all Indian students from Sumy. They are currently en route to Poltava, from where they will board trains to western Ukraine. Flights under Operation Ganga are being prepared to bring them home.”

The Indian embassy in Ukraine posted a message on Twitter: “The humanitarian corridor for evacuation of stranded people has been announced in various parts of Ukraine from 1000 hrs on March 8. Considering the security situation, establishment of the next humanitarian corridor is uncertain.”

“All stranded Indian nationals are urged to make use of this opportunity and evacuate using trains or vehicles or any other available means of transport giving due consideration to safety,” the embassy said.

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