India urges Russia and Ukraine to halt hostilities for evacuation

As per an official from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India has requested Russia and Ukraine to announce a local ceasefire so that it can evacuate its nationals stranded in Kharkiv and Sumy. India is constantly working hard to evacuate its stranded nationals from Kharkiv and Sumy where at least 1,000 students remain amidst a fast-shifting military situation. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “Without ceasefire, it appears difficult. There is shelling take place, and the two armies have contact points. We do not want our students to pass through areas where they would be exposed to risks. We would expect there should be a safe route for our students so that they could be evacuated safely. We have asked both sides to agree to some form of ceasefire or at least a local ceasefire.” Russian National Defence Control Centre Head Mikhail Mizintsev assured that Russia would aid India’s efforts to transport foreign students back to their countries. He said, “130 comfortable buses are ready to depart to Kharkiv and Sumy from the Nekhoteyevka (near Belgorod) and Sudzha (near Kursk) checkpoints since 6 a.m. today to rescue Indian and citizens of other foreign states”. Even Mr. Arindam Bagchi feels that evacuating Indian students through the Russian territory would be “easy” but is apprehensive of running buses through an active zone of hostilities between the current location of the buses at Russian check- points and the position of the students. Mr. Bagchi said that the evacuation can’t be accomplished without security guarantees from both sides. He mentioned that India’s primary focus remains on getting the students out in a safe and secure manner. He also assured that the Government of India would be bearing the medical cost of the required treatments for Harjot Singh who was shot on Friday in Kyiv and is currently hospitalised. Dmytro Kuleba, Foreign Minister of Ukraine announced that Ukraine has set up a helpline for foreign students.

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