Modi, Zelenskyy discuss evolving situation in Ukraine; Prime Minister to call Putin next

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on Monday, during which the two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine, as per the government sources. The prime minister, during the telephonic conversation, also thanked Zelenskyy for the help extended by Ukrainian government in the evacuation of Indians from the country.

PM Modi is scheduled to call Russian President Vladimir Putin next, as per the government sources.

Modi’s calls with the leaders of the warring nations, Ukraine and Russia, come amid India’s efforts to evacuate its stranded nationals from the war-torn cities and as Russian troops continue to push into Ukrainian territory. Around 700 Indians, mainly students, are stranded in the northeastern city of Ukraine, Sumy, among others. Russians have announced a ceasefire to allow the opening of humanitarian corridors in Sumy.

This is the second time the Prime Minister interacted with Zelenskyy ever since the invasion began. Hours after India had abstained to vote on a US-sponsored UN Security Council resolution that deplored Russia’s actions on February 26, Zelenskyy had called upon Modi for his political support. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi had expressed “deep anguish” over the loss of life and property, reiterated his call for “immediate cessation of violence”.

Modi has also held talks with Putin regarding the invasion and the safe evacuation of the Indian nationals. He had urged Putin to end the violence shortly after the invasion began, and called for “concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue”. On another phone call on March 2, Modi had discussed the evacuation of Indian students, especially from Kharkiv. According to a readout of the conversation between the two leaders, the Kremlin had claimed that Indian students in Kharkiv had been “taken hostage” by Ukrainian security forces who were using them as “a human shield” to “prevent them from leaving for Russian territory”. However, officials in New Delhi have said that they have no reports of a hostage situation.

Since Ukrainian airspace has been closed for civilian flights, India has been evacuating its stranded nationals via land routes of Moldova, Slovakia, Romania, Poland and Hungary.

On Sunday, India commenced the final leg of Operation Ganga, the Government’s evacuation mission, from Hungary. The Indian Embassy asked all students living in accommodation other than that arranged by the Government to reach Hungaria City Centre in Budapest between 10 am and 12 pm local time (2.30 pm and 4.30 pm IST).

In Ukraine, the Indian Embassy is trying to get a “sense” of how many Indians are still stranded in that country, particularly in Sumy, amid intense shelling and efforts to ensure safe passage. It has asked all those who are yet to leave conflict zones in Ukraine to “urgently” fill up a Google form, with personal details and location, for evacuation.