New Delhi: India will operate 26 flights over the next three days to fly back Indian citizens who have moved from Ukraine to neighbouring countries, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters today after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on the country’s evacuation efforts. Besides Romania’s Bucharest and Hungary’s Budapest, airports in Poland and Slovak Republic will also be used, he added.
There were an estimated 20,000 Indian students in Ukraine when the government issued its first advisory. “From that number, approximately 12,000 have since left Ukraine, which is 60 per cent of the total,” he said.
“Of the remaining 40 per cent, roughly half remain in conflict zone in Kharkiv, Sumy area and the other half has either reached the western borders of Ukraine or are heading towards the western part of Ukraine… they are generally out of conflict areas,” the Foreign Secretary said.
The government had stepped up its evacuation efforts over the last two days as videos from stranded students flooded social media. PM Modi held four high-level meetings within 48 hours.
A dedicated twitter handle was started to aid the students and the services of Air India was augmented by private carriers Spicejet and Indigo. The government even pressed the Air Force into service, saying it will speed up the process.
Today, the government said all Indians have left Kyiv, where Russian offensive is likely to intensify next. The Indian embassy in Kyiv has also been shut.
“All of our nationals have left Kyiv,” Mr Shringla said. “The information with us is that we have no more nationals left in Kyiv, nobody has contacted us from Kyiv since… All our inquiries reveal that each and every one of our nationals has come out of Kyiv,” he added.