Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin today and stressed the importance of safely evacuating Indian citizens as soon as possible from the Ukrainian city of Sumy. He also urged him to hold direct talks with President Zelensky of Ukraine, in addition to the ongoing negotiations between their teams. Government sources said the two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine in a phone call that lasted about 50 minutes.
President Putin is said to have assured Prime Minister Modi of all possibilities of cooperation in the evacuation of Indian citizens from the war-torn country.
Some 700 to 900 Indian students have been stranded in Sumy, northeast Ukraine amid bombings and gun battles. They have shared several videos of their plight, saying they have few resources and fear for their lives. Videos show them gathering snow to melt water as they are said to not have enough food and water.
Government sources said the two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine in a phone call that lasted about 50 minutes.
This is the second time the Prime Minister has called President Putin since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On the 25th of February, Prime Minister Modi called the President of Russia called for an “immediate end to violence”. He also stressed that safely evacuating the Indians is India’s top priority.
At the beginning of the day, Prime Minister Modi also spoke with the President of Ukraine and sought his assistance in evacuating Indians trapped in the Ukrainian city of Sumy in the midst of the Russian invasion. Maintaining a neutral stance, he also appreciated “continued direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine”.
President Putin briefly informed Prime Minister Modi about the state of negotiations between the Ukrainian team and Russia.
“Prime Minister Modi highly appreciated the declaration of a ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine, including Sumy,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the new “humanitarian corridors” of Russia was branded as an immoral stunt by Kyiv.
Ukrainian Presidential spokesman Volodymyr Zelensky called the move “totally immoral” and said that Russia was trying to “use the suffering of its people to create a television picture”.
“They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to Ukrainian territory,” the spokesman told Reuters news agency.
India has been trying to evacuate its citizens, mostly students, from the conflict-torn country. The government finds evacuating people stranded in the eastern parts of the country, including Sumy, a particular challenge.
Students in Sumy yesterday shared a video saying that they had decided to take an adventurous journey to the Russian border 50 kilometers away. However, they decided to stay after the government contacted them and advised them to “avoid unnecessary risks”.