New Delhi/Kyiv, March 4
Some 1000 Indians are still stuck in Ukraine’s war zones, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday as India pushes to get Indians stuck in the middle of the Russia-Ukraine war out of conflict areas.
India is primarily focusing on evacuating its nationals from the conflict zones of Kharkiv and Sumy in eastern Ukraine, the MEA said.
Some 300 Indians are stranded in Kharkiv, a city that has come under intense Russian shelling, and 700 are in Sumy.
At a media briefing, he said a local ceasefire would help in the evacuation of the Indians and that New Delhi is urging both the Russian and Ukrainian sides to find ways for their safe passage from the conflict zones.
“Our primary focus is to get Indian students out of conflict zones in eastern Ukraine,” he said.
Bagchi said around 20,000 Indians have left Ukraine’s borders since India issued its first travel advisories in mid-February.
He said 15 flights landed in India as part of the evacuation mission during last 24 hours, bringing back more than 3,000 nationals.
The spokesperson said 16 flights are scheduled for the next 24 hours.
Over 10,300 Indians brought back in 48 flights under ‘Operation Ganga’ so far, he added.
The development comes on a day when escalated shelling in Ukraine led to a fire at Europe's largest nuclear power station in Ukraine, causing fears of radiation in the country that has in the past been victim to one of the world's largest nuclear disasters.
“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for Zaporizhzhia plant in Enerhodar, said in a video posted on Telegram. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.” The plant accounts for about one quarter of Ukraine's power generation.
Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant and had set fire to one of the facility's six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.
Budget carrier AirAsia India on Friday said it is operating an evacuation flight from Suceava city in Romania to fly back stranded Indians from the war-hit Ukraine.
Russia is open for dialogue with Ukraine provided Kyiv fulfilled all its demands, IFX quotes Putin as telling Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Ukraine and Russia will face off Monday at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a hearing on emergency measures sought by Kyiv to order Moscow to suspend military operations, with Russia’s legal team weakened by the resignation of a key lawyer.
The case lodged by Ukraine at the U.N. court centres on the interpretation of a 1948 treaty on the prevention of genocide, signed by both Russia and Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine will cause more deaths and destruction over the coming days, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday, calling on Russia's President Vladimir Putin to withdraw all troops from Ukraine without conditions.
"The days to come are likely to be worse, with more deaths, more suffering and more destruction," Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers in Brussels, Reuters said in a report.
The Ukrainian state nuclear company on Friday said that three Ukrainian troops were killed and two wounded in the Russian attack at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
The New Development Bank (NDB) of the BRICS bloc has put all new transactions in Russia on hold citing the “unfolding uncertainties and restrictions”, amidst the Ukraine crisis.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to Russians on Friday to stage protests over Russian forces' seizure of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
"Russian people, I want to appeal to you: how is this possible? After all we fought together in 1986 against the Chernobyl catastrophe," he said in a televised address, evoking memories of the world's worst nuclear disaster.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has kept two IL-76 military transport aircraft on standby to evacuate Indians who are stranded in conflict-hit eastern Ukrainian cities like Sumy and Kharkiv from Russian capital Moscow, officials said on Friday. Read full report
Russian military forces have seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine's southeast, a local authority said on Friday.
"Operational personnel are monitoring the condition of power units," it said on social media, adding that the efforts sought to ensure the operations were in line with safety requirements.
Ukraine has said Russian forces attacked the plant in the early hours of Friday, setting an adjacent five-story training facility on fire. Reuters
Essential equipment at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was unaffected after a fire there, with no change in radiation levels, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday, citing the country's regulatory authorities.
A fire at Europe's biggest nuclear plant ignited by Russian shelling has been extinguished, Ukrainian authorities said on Friday, and Russian forces have taken control of the site.
There was damage to the compartment of reactor No 1 at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the city of Enerhodar, but it does not affect the safety of the power unit, the regional military administration said in a statement. It added that operational personnel are ensuring its safety. No information was immediately available about casualties.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Friday warned against Russian troops firing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe, saying that if it blows up then the disaster would be "10 times larger" than Chernobyl. Read full story
An Indian student has reportedly been shot at and injured in Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Minister of State for Civil Aviation VK Singh said on Friday. Read full story
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