Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and stressed the importance of the safe evacuation of Indian citizens from Ukraine’s Sumy city at the earliest. He also urged him to hold direct talks with President Zelensky of Ukraine, in addition to the ongoing negotiations between their teams. The two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine in a phone call that lasted about 50 minutes, government sources said.
President Putin reportedly assured PM Modi of all possible cooperation in the evacuation of Indian nationals from the war-torn country.
Around 700 to 900 Indian students have been stranded in Sumy in northeast Ukraine amid bombing and gunfights. They have shared several videos of their plight, saying they have scant resources and fear for their lives. Videos showed them collecting snow to melt for water as they reportedly don’t have access to enough food and water.
The two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine in a phone call that lasted about 50 minutes, government sources said.
This is the second time the Prime Minister has called President Putin since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On February 25, PM Modi had called the Russian President appealing for an “immediate cessation of violence”. He had also stressed that evacuation of Indians safely was India’s highest priority.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi also spoke to the Ukrainian President and sought his support in evacuating Indians stuck in Ukraine’s Sumy city amid the Russian invasion. Maintaining a neutral stand, he also appreciated the “continuing direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine”.
President Putin reportedly briefed Prime Minister Modi on the status of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian teams.
“Prime Minister Modi appreciated the announcement of ceasefire and establishment of humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine, including Sumy,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Russia’s new “humanitarian corridors” have been dismissed by Kyiv as an immoral stunt.
A spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the move “completely immoral” and said Russia was trying to “use people’s suffering to create a television picture”.
“They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the spokesperson told news agency Reuters.
India has been trying to evacuate its nationals, mainly students, from the conflict-stricken country. The government has found it particularly challenging to evacuate those stuck in eastern parts of the country, including Sumy.
The students in Sumy had yesterday shared videos saying they have decided to take a risky journey to the Russian border that’s 50 kilometers away. They, however, decided to stay put after the government contacted them and advised them to “avoid unnecessary risks”.