Need Bomb Shelters? Google Them, Says Indian Embassy In Ukraine

Russia Ukraine crisis: Air raid sirens were heard in Kyiv today. Russia has said it is using precision munitions against military targets in Ukraine

Need Bomb Shelters? Google Them, Says Indian Embassy In Ukraine

Russia-Ukraine crisis: Air raid sirens were heard in cities across Ukraine today (AFP)

New Delhi:

As Russia invaded Ukraine, the Indian Embassy at 5 pm issued its third advisory since this morning on guidelines for Indians. "We are aware that certain places are hearing air sirens/bomb warnings. In case you are faced with such a situation, google maps has a list of nearby bomb shelters, many of which are located in underground metros," the embassy said. For those in Kyiv, the official link from Kyiv city administration is here, the embassy said.

There are approximately 18,000 Indians in Ukraine, many of them students. An Air India flight sent for evacuation took off  at 7:30 am but had to return after Ukraine closed its airspace for commercial flights.

"Since the air space in Ukraine has been closed, we have stopped the measures to bring back Indians via flights. We are planning alternative measures to bring back Indians. Ministry of External Affairs has decided to send more diplomats to this area to help the Indian embassy," said V Muraleedharan, the junior Foreign Minister.

"I spoke to Malayali students in Ukraine on phone. Indian students in the southern areas of Ukraine have told us that they are getting food, water and power. Students and parents should not panic. Our government has brought back Indians even from places like Iraq. The central government will be able to ensure the safety of Indians, there is no doubt about that. The control room has been expanded, more telephone numbers have been given," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in an early televised address to his country announced this morning that Russia would launch military operations against Ukraine. Since then, Moscow says it has destroyed Ukrainian military air bases and air defence systems. Missiles have targeted major Ukrainian cities including the capital, Kyiv. Russia's ground forces crossed into Ukraine from several directions and explosions were seen in cities along the coast.

Earlier today, the Indian embassy asked people to turn away if they were heading to Kyiv and return to the cities they live in.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting this evening with the Finance Minister, Defence Minister and other senior colleagues to assess the fallout of the Ukraine crisis. Sources said the meeting will prioritise evacuation strategy for the Indians stranded in Ukraine. On social media, photos showed students gathered outside the embassy with their suitcases in tow.

Ukraine says it has killed "around 50 Russian occupiers" while repulsing an attack on a town on the frontline with Moscow-backed rebels.

President Putin claims the invasion is to defend separatists in the east of the country against "genocide".