Russia says its buses ready to evacuate Indian students, foreigners from Ukraine

New Delhi: The Russian defense ministry on Wednesday said its armed forces are ready to take all necessary measures for the safe evacuation of Indian citizens from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

An official of the Russian embassy in India shared the details of the Russian defence ministry’s briefing.

At a media briefing in Moscow, the ministry also alleged that the Ukrainian authorities are “forcibly keeping” a group of Indian students in Kharkiv against their wishes to go to Belgorod.

When asked, Ukrainian Ambassador to India Igor Polikha strongly rubbished the allegations and said Ukraine, which is “bleeding”, is helping the foreign students stranded in the country.

“We did our best to mitigate the issue of students trying to cross the western borders amid huge crowds of refugees and this issue is basically solved. As far as I know, the first batch of Indians has already left Kharkiv towards the western border,” he said.

According to the details shared by the Russian official, the Russian defence ministry also claimed that the Ukrainian authorities have offered the students that they can exit Ukraine through the country’s border with Poland.

It said the route to the Polish border has areas of active hostilities.

As fighting intensified in Kharkiv, India asked its nationals on Wednesday to leave the second-largest Ukrainian city urgently to three nearby places “even on foot”, while Russia promised to create “humanitarian corridors” for the evacuation of Indians from the conflict zones.

The Russian defence ministry said its armed forces are ready to take all necessary measures for the safe evacuation of the Indian citizens.

“According to our information, Ukrainian authorities forcibly keep a large group of Indian students in Kharkiv who wish to leave Ukrainian territory and go to Belgorod,” according to the Russian defence ministry.

Belgorod is a bordering region in Russia and is not very far from Kharkiv, according to an official. A team from the Indian embassy in Moscow has already reached Belgorod for any possible evacuation of Indians from Kharkiv.

The ministry said the Russian side is ready to send the students back home from Russian territory by its own military transport planes or Indian aircraft, adding that it will depend on what the Indian side proposes to do.

India had asked Russia to facilitate the safe passage of Indians from various conflict zones after the killing of an Indian student in shelling in Kharkiv on Tuesday.

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