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India shuts down embassy in Kyiv, diplomats now in Lviv in west Ukraine to smoothen evacuation

The embassy was shut down after MEA asked all remaining Indian nationals to leave Kyiv ‘urgently’ in an advisory issued Tuesday.

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New Delhi: With the Russia-Ukraine war entering its sixth day, the Indian embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has been shut down, and the diplomats have all been shifted to Lviv in the western part of the country. This is expected to enable them to smoothen the process of evacuation for Indian citizens stuck in Ukraine, which is becoming arduous by the day.

According to sources, India shut down its embassy in Kyiv after the Ministry of External Affairs asked all remaining Indian nationals to leave the capital city “urgently” early Tuesday.

Diplomats located in Kyiv will now be posted in Lviv, which will continue to act as a hub for the evacuation exercise as the war between Russia and Ukraine appears protracted.

A new space has already been identified to set up the new mission, sources said, adding that some Indian diplomats have also taken the road to reach Lviv.

Lviv has now become a key centre for Ukrainians and several thousand foreign nationals, who are finding it a ‘haven in the west’ of the war-torn country.

Evacuation from Kharkiv a ‘priority’

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the government has now made the evacuation process for those students who are stuck in Kharkiv a “priority”. An Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft will be leaving for Romania Wednesday, while 26 commercial flights will also be engaged in the next 2-3 days from neighbouring countries.

The Foreign Secretary said as many as 12,000 Indian nationals have now left Ukraine since the war began, which is about 40 per cent of the total number of citizens who were living there.

While the war intensified, several Indian students continued to remain stuck in areas where the fighting is intense, such as Kharkiv and Sumy.

This is the second time in less than a year that India has had to shut down its embassy in a country as it came under threat. On 16 August 2021, India had shut down its embassy in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.

Meanwhile, Ukraine continued to remain on tenterhooks as the European Union debates its potential to become a member of the grouping.

“Today the EU and Ukraine are already closer than ever. There is still a long path ahead. We have to end this war. And we should talk about the next steps. But nobody can doubt that a people that stands up so bravely for our European values belongs in our European family,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, Tuesday.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)


Also Read: ‘Pitiful’ Ukrainians and a dreadful journey: What evacuated Indian students saw & felt


 

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