Four advisories were issued by the Indian Embassy in Ukraine by February 24, urging Indians to leave Ukraine. Special appeals were made to Indian students to return home and avoid non-essential travel in Ukraine.
Since the tension escalated between Russia and Ukraine, the Union government took multiple steps to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian nationals in Ukraine.
Ten days back, on February 15, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine issued an advisory urging Indian nationals to leave Ukraine. It specifically requested Indian students to leave Ukraine. “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,” the advisory issued on February 15 read.
Further, it also requested the Indian nationals to keep the Embassy informed about their contact details. It said, “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.”
NDTV interviewed some students, spreading the news that the Union government was not doing anything for their evacuation and was least worried about their well-being. NDTV Executive Editor Vishnu Som had himself interviewed one student who had expressed her view that there was no need to leave Ukraine.
To facilitate the easy travel of passengers heading back home from Ukraine, the Union government removed the cap on passengers under Air Bubble Arrangement on February 16. Following up on it, Air India announced special flights on February 22, 24 and 26. On February 20, considering the lukewarm response from the Indian nationals in Ukraine, Air India considered postponing flights. The very same day, the Indian Embassy again issued an advisory.
On February 22, the Indian Embassy again issued advisory requesting Indian students to return to India quickly. On February 24, the Indian Embassy issued a fifth advisory, updating the Indian nationals about the steps taken to ensure their safety.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine. Russian military forces are currently in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
President Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister Modi on Thursday (February 24) night and briefed him about the situation in Ukraine. In a statement after the phone call, PMO said, “Prime Minister also sensitised the Russian President about India’s concerns regarding the safety of the Indian citizens in Ukraine, especially students and conveyed that India attaches the highest priority to their safe exit and return to India.”