Indian student’s death in Ukraine: Russian envoy promises probe

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NEW DELHI:Russia is working to put in place “humanitarian corridors” for the safe evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in conflict zones in eastern Ukraine and will conduct an investigation into the death of an Indian student in Kharkiv, Russian ambassador-designate Denis Alipov said on Wednesday.

The evacuation of some 4,000 Indians stuck in Kharkiv, Sumy and other conflict zones in eastern Ukraine has become the top priority of the Indian government following the death of 21-year-old medical student Naveen Shekharappa Gyandagoudar on Tuesday.

The Russian side hopes to have humanitarian corridors in place “as soon as possible” so that Indians in these conflict zones can be moved to Russian territory, Alipov told a virtual briefing. The Russian side also intends to stop the military operations in Ukraine as soon as possible as the situation is a “tragedy” for both countries, he added.

Alipov offered his “deepest condolences” over the death of Gyandagoudar and conveyed his sympathy to the student’s family and the Indian nation. “Russia will do everything it possibly can to ensure the safety of Indians in conflict zones,” he said, adding that there will be an investigation into the death of the Indian student.

The Russian side is also in touch and coordinating with India both on the safety of the stranded Indian citizens and at the United Nations. “We are in touch with Indian authorities as regards the citizens of India in Kharkiv, Sumy and [other] areas,” he said.

Russia has received Indian requests for the emergency evacuation of Indians stuck in conflict zones to Russian territory, and authorities are actively working to launch such an operation to open the humanitarian corridors, Alipov said.

Alipov thanked India for what he described as the “unbiased” and “balanced” position the country has adopted at the UN during recent meetings on the situation in Ukraine. “We are strategic allies with India, we are very much grateful for India’s balanced position displayed at the UN…and we hope this will continue,” he said.

The ambassador-designate also said ongoing defence contracts and trade between India and Russia wouldn’t be affected by sanctions imposed by the US and its allies as Moscow and Delhi have put in place “mechanisms of cooperation and transactions that are independent of Western financial mechanisms”.

Alipov said Russia’s deliveries of five regiments of S-400 air defence systems would not be hit by the sanctions. The Russian side delivered the first regiment at the end of last year, coinciding with a visit to New Delhi by Russian President Vladimir Putin.


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