No Decision On Evacuation From Ukraine, Focus Remains On Indian Citizens: MEA

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi (file image)

India has not taken any decision on evacuation operations from Ukraine and its focus remains on Indian citizens, including students and other nationals, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

Speaking at a media briefing, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said developments are being monitored by Embassy in Kiev amid the Russia and Ukraine tensions. “We’ve set up control rooms. We also have a 24/7 helpline. I don’t think any decision on evacuation has been taken, our Embassy continues to function normally & provide services to Indian nationals in Ukraine,” Bagchi said.

On the seriousness of the ongoing developments, the spokesperson said, “We take on board developments that are happening as well as our assessment of how we can assist our citizens there. Our focus is and remains on Indian citizens, Indian students, Indian nationals rather than anything larger than that.”

Bagchi further said that India has no immediate evacuation plans and there are no special flights. “However, there were a limited number of flights under air bubble arrangements, restrictions on the number of flights and passengers removed. Indian carriers being encouraged to operate Chartered flights between India-Ukraine,” he said.

Answering a question of how India sees the current development in Ukraine, the MEA spokesperson said,” Our position has been clear and consistent. You would have seen our statement at the Security Council a few days ago. External Affairs Minister spoke at length during his visit to Australia.”

“In a sense, we have been supportive of an immediate de-escalation of tensions and a resolution of issues through sustained diplomatic dialogue. Welcome efforts being undertaken under Normandy Format for implementation of Minsk agreements,” he added.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Civil Aviation removed the restriction on the number of flights that can be operated between India and Ukraine under the bilateral air bubble arrangement to facilitate the travel of Indians from the eastern European country.

On February 15, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine asked its citizens to leave Kiev temporarily. The advisory also requested its nationals to keep the Embassy informed about the status of their presence to enable it to reach them where required.

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