NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday asked all its nationals in the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv to leave immediately for their safety and security, a day after an Indian student was killed in a Russian attack.
The Indian nationals in Kharkiv were asked to travel to other nearby Ukrainian cities such as Pesochin or to Bezlyudovka in Belgorod in Russia, according to an “urgent advisory” issued by the Indian embassy on Twitter.
“URGENT ADVISORY TO ALL INDIAN NATIONALS IN KHARKIV. FOR THEIR SAFETY AND SECURITY THEY MUST LEAVE KHARKIV IMMEDIATELY,” the tweet said.
“PROCEED TO PESOCHIN, BABAYE AND BEZLYUDOVKA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES THEY MUST REACH THESE SETTLEMENTS *BY 1800 HRS (UKRAINIAN TIME) TODAY*,” it added.
The advisory was issued amid reports of more explosions in Ukraine’s second largest city during a massive assault by Russian forces. Ukrainian authorities said the central parts of Kharkiv were being subjected to “massive shelling and bombing” and several administrative buildings collapsed after being hit by missiles.
According to official estimates, some 4,000 Indians are stranded in Kharkiv, Sumy and other cities in eastern Ukraine due to the intense fighting and shelling by Russian forces. A final year medical student from India, Naveen Shekharappa Gyandagoudar, was killed in an attack by Russian forces in Kharkiv on Tuesday when he stepped out of a shelter to buy food.
Russia’s ambassador-designate in New Delhi, Denis Alipov, told reporters on Wednesday that his country is working on creating “humanitarian corridors” so that Indian nationals in conflict zones can be pulled out to Russian territory. He also said Russia will investigate the incident that resulted in the death of the Indian student.
The Indian side has already deployed a team from the embassy in Moscow in the Russian city of Belgorod, located some 75 km across the border from Kharkiv, and begun working on transport and logistics for a possible evacuation on this route. However, the team has been unable to make any headway because of the fighting going on across eastern Ukraine, people familiar with the development said.