This Article is From Apr 06, 2022

'Never-Before' Ukraine Evacuation, PM's Intervention "Unique": Government

Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Stressing the need for dialogue and diplomacy, S Jaishankar said that "no solution can be arrived at by shedding blood".

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar today said that India "strongly condemns" the killings in Bucha.

New Delhi:

No one has ever evacuated its citizens at such a large scale, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar today said in the Lok Sabha while briefing the house on the situation in Ukraine. Answering questions on Operation Ganga - India's evacuation mission for citizens stranded in Ukraine - he said that it was the most challenging evacuation carried out by India and is inspiring other countries. "Had the four Union ministers not gone to countries neighbouring Ukraine, India would not have got the same level of cooperation," he said.

Mr Jaishankar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally invested in the evacuation, and that he conducted meetings and supervised the situation in the midst of elections.

Following India's support for an independent investigation into reports of civilian killings in Ukraine's Bucha, Mr Jaishankar today said that India "strongly condemns" the killings in Bucha. "It's an extremely serious matter and we support the call for an independent investigation," he said and added that India has chosen the "side of peace".

"If India has chosen a side, it is a side of peace and it is for an immediate end to violence. This is our principled stand and has consistently guided our position in international forums and debates, including in the UN," he said.

The Minister added that India "continues to push for dialogue" and an end to violence. "If India can be of any assistance in this matter, we will be glad to contribute," he added.

Stressing the need for dialogue and diplomacy, he said that "no solution can be arrived at by shedding blood and at the cost of innocent lives".

"One should bear in mind that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, on respect for international law and for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states," he asserted.

Mr Jaishankar also said that attributing a political colour to India's actions vis-a-vis the Ukraine situation was unfortunate.

On trade relations with the heavily sanctioned Russia, Mr Jaishankar said the government is working to stabilise economic transactions between the two counties and that Russia continues to be a critical economic partner. 

Russia is India's main supplier of defence hardware but overall annual trade is small, averaging about $9 billion in the past few years, mainly fertiliser and some oil, according to news agency Reuters.

Official sources have earlier stated that the Indian government has been looking to establish a rupee-rouble trade system.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, had on April 3 said that Ukrainian troops had found the bodies of women who had been raped and set alight, as well as the bodies of local officials and children in Bucha, 37 km northwest of Kyiv city centre. Town mayor Fedoruk said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army.

Russia has denied the Ukrainian allegations, saying footage and photographs showing dead bodies in Bucha were "yet another provocation" by Kyiv.

In the strongest statement in the UN Security Council so far, India's ambassador TS Tirumurti had yesterday said, "The recent reports of civilian killings in Bucha deeply disturbing. We unequivocally condemn these killings and support call for an independent investigation".