For Indian nationals and students in Ukraine...New advisory and helplines from Indian Embassy in Kyiv!

While the Russian troops and their Ukrainian counterparts are waging war after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade the neighbouring country, several global countries have initiated the work to aid and bring their respective countrymen stranded in the war-torn country. Russia had on Thursday invaded Ukraine over an ongoing conflict and hundreds of Ukrainians were seen leaving from major cities to find a refuge far from the sight of Russia. 

Besides Ukrainians bracing up the war and finding a new home amid the possibilities of yet another humanitarian crisis, foreign nationals are desperately working with the embassies of their respective countries to leave Ukraine. The conflict had put thousands of Indians in a perilous situation and hundreds of students were seeking a safe gateway to leave the country. 

Earlier, the Indian government has asked the Indian nationals to leave the country through commercial aircraft and when the signs of war were in sight, the Indian Embassy in Kyiv had been issuing several advisories to the Indian people. As the Russian troops had invaded Ukraine, the Indian Embassy has on Thursday issued a fresh advisory along with the helpline numbers where the Indians can reach out. 

In a statement headlined as "Advisory to all Indian Nationals/ Students in Ukraine as on 24.02.2022", the Indian Embassy said, "This is to inform all Indian nationals in Ukraine that since the Ukrainian airspace has been closed, the schedule for special flights stands cancelled. Alternative arrangements are being made for the evacuation of Indian nationals. Embassy will convey information as soon as such arrangements are finalized, so that Indian nationals can relocate to the western part of the country." 

"Please carry your passports and necessary documents on your person at all times. You are advised to follow Embassy website and social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) posts for updates on this regard", the Indian Embassy added and listed the embassy helpline numbers. In another advisory, the Indian Embassy said, "Dear Indians in Ukraine, the present situation in Ukraine is highly uncertain. Please remain calm and remain safe wherever you are, be it in your homes, hostels, accommodations, or in transit. 

It further said, "All those who are travelling to Kyiv, including those travelling from western parts of Kyiv, are advised to return to their respective cities temporarily, especially towards safer places along with the western bordering countries. Further advisories will be issued for any updates." Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs, took to Twitter and wrote, "In view of the rapidly changing situation in Ukraine, we have expanded the Control Room set up at @MEAIndia to function 24*7." 

On February 19, Air India had announced that it will operate special flights to bring back Indians from  Ukraine. The first flight was operated on February 22 and it had brought back 240 people. The airline has said it would operate three flights between India and Ukraine on February 22, 24, and 26. As per the announcement, the second special flight took off from Delhi on Thursday only to return empty. 

An Air India plane that was en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to repatriate Indians had made a U-turn after Ukraine had closed its airspace. It had taken off from Delhi in the morning hours of Thursday - February 24 to Kyiv to bring back Indians. However, the aircraft had made a U-turn ahead of approaching Ukrainian territory and returning back to Delhi after Ukraine had closed its airspace amid the conflict with Russia.

After the Air India flight had departed from Delhi, the Ukrainian authorities had issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), which had stated that flights of civil aircraft within Ukraine are restricted due to potential hazards for civil aviation. The Indian government officials have said that following the notice, Air India and the government had decided to call back the plane to Delhi and while it was called back, the plane was flying over the Iranian airspace.

An airline spokesperson said the Air India flight AI 1947 is returning as a NOTAM has been issued at Kyiv. The flight started from the Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 7.30 am for Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv. On the other hand, a Ukraine International Airlines flight from Kyiv had landed at the Delhi airport at around 7.45 am on Thursday and it has been reported that there were 182 Indian nationals on board the flight and the majority of them were students. According to reports, over 15,000 Indians are currently staying in Ukraine and they include students.