New Delhi: 'Friendship' counts. As many as 130 Russian buses were on Friday (February 4) pressed into service to evacuate Indian students and other foreigners from Ukraine's Kharkiv and Sumy to Russia's Belgorod Region, according to reports by Russian News Agency TASS. Russian National Defense Control Center head Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev made the announcement.
MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi said India is seeking safe passage for its citizens and students from both the Ukrainian and Russian authorities.
"We have been pressing all sides, both Russian and Ukrainian, for the safe passage of our citizens. If the Russians have a solution to a corridor. That is great. That is the way to go, but as I say, we have some indications of a way out from southwest of Kharkiv. We took that. We are continuing to press all sides," he said, replying to a question during a special media briefing.
Meanwhile, according to a British military intelligence assessment, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian control, notwithstanding heavy shelling.
The Russian military forces have seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine's southeast. Ukraine emergency services say the fire has been extinguished at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following intense shelling.
Ukraine's State Emergency Service said they have put out the fire that began after Russian forces struck the facility, Europe's largest nuclear power station. The International Atomic Energy Agency, Ukraine's regulator, said there has been 'no change reported in radiation levels' at the station.
Reports also say US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the situation.
Zelensky has meanwhile reiterated his request for a no-fly zone to be established over Ukraine and asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for face-to-face talks.
For his part, Putin has said in a televised address that the military operation in Ukraine was proceeding according to plan. Reports also said Ukraine and Russia tentatively agreed to implement safe corridors for civilians to evacuate.