The Indian embassy in Ukraine has advised its citizens not to move to any of the border posts without coordination with its officials. As Russia is mounting an all-out invasion on the former Soviet republic, thousands of Indians have been stranded and are desperately seeking a way out.
"The situation at various border checkpoints is sensitive and the Embassy is working continuously with our Embassies in our neighbouring countries for coordinated evacuation of our citizens," the Indian embassy in Ukraine tweeted this morning.
The embassy said that it's finding it "increasingly difficult" to help Indian nationals who reach border checkpoints without prior intimation.
The advisory comes amid reports of Indians walking long distances to the country's borders in an attempt to cross over to neighbouring countries from where they can be safely evacuated. Many stranded students have also taken to social media to appeal to the government to arrange for special flights. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi today tweeted a video of students from inside a bunker and appealed to the government to urgently evacuate them.
Visuals of Indian students in bunkers are disturbing. Many are stuck in eastern Ukraine which is under heavy attack.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 26, 2022
My thoughts are with their worried family members. Again, I appeal to GOI to execute urgent evacuation. pic.twitter.com/alem9nYNgr
Ukraine is an attractive destination for Indian medical students as the cost of education is significantly lower than in India.
Students have reportedly been hiding in basements without access to necessary resources as the markets also remain shut in most parts of the country.
"Staying in western cities of Ukraine with access to water, food, accommodation and basic amenities is relatively safer and advisable compared to reaching border checkpoints without being fully abreast of the situation," the embassy said.
To those currently in the eastern parts of the country, the embassy has advised them to remain in their current places of residence until further instructions.
"Maintain calm, and stay indoors or in shelters as much as possible, with whatever food, water and amenities available and remain patient. Avoid unnecessary movement," it said.
The embassy had yesterday said that more than 470 students would exit Ukraine and enter Romania through the Porubne-Siret Border. "We are moving Indians located at the border to neighbouring countries for onward evacuation. Efforts are underway to relocate Indians coming from the hinterland," it said.
India has sent government teams to Ukraine's borders from Hungary and Poland to evacuate the citizens who are still stuck in the country. The officials are travelling via land, as the Ukrainian airspace has been closed amid an onslaught by the Russian military.
India has identified safe routes that it plans to use to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine. "The safe routes have been identified. By road, if you go from Kyiv, you would reach Poland in nine hours and Romania in nearly 12 hours. The road has been mapped out," Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India's Foreign Secretary, said yesterday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA) has set up a dedicated 24*7 control room to provide assistance and information to Indians in Ukraine.
India has repeatedly reiterated that the safety and security of its citizens is its top priority.