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India asks relatives of embassy staff to leave Ukraine immediately

As Russia has moved more troops and weapons to Ukraine borders and the fighting in separatist-controlled Donbas has escalated, the Western countries warn that an invasion is imminent.

NEW DELHI, Feb 20: All the family members of the embassy staff in Ukraine and all students and other Indians still remaining in the country have been advised by the Indian mission to leave immediately in view of the worsening situation at the border where Russia is ramping up troop build-up for what is being feared by the West as an imminent aggression, which may lead to a catastrophic war with the West.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine said Indian citizens should take any available commercial or charter flight to get out of the country.

"In view of the continued high levels of tensions and uncertainties with respect to the situation in Ukraine, all Indian nationals whose stay is not deemed essential and all Indian students, are advised to leave Ukraine temporarily," the embassy tweeted.

"Indian students are advised to also get in touch with respective student contractors for updates on charter flights, and also continue to follow embassy Facebook, website and Twitter for any update," it said.

The embassy in Ukraine said everyone is not getting the flights now and that more flights are being planned. It asked the Indian citizens not to panic. The details of additional flights would be made available "as and when confirmed".

It has been stated that Air India will send three aircraft to Ukraine on February 22, 24 and 26. The flights will operate to and from Boryspil International Airport.

Indians needing information and assistance can also contact the control room set up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The embassy in Ukraine has a 24-hour helpline, the Ministry said in a statement.

The contact numbers are: 1800118797 (toll free); +91 11 23012113, +91 11 23014104, +91 11 23017905; Fax: +91 11 23088124; Email: situationroom@mea.gov.in

The 24x7 emergency helpline in Ukraine: +380 997300428, +380 997300483; Email: cons1.kyiv@mea.gov.in; Website: eoiukraine.gov.in

Meanwhile, fighting escalated in Russia-backed, separatist-controlled Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Shelling continued in the frontline with the Ukraine forces. Putin oversaw tests of nuclear-capable missiles in friendly Belarus in the north.

US Vice-President Kamala Harris rounded up her mission at the Munich Security Conference at the weekend. She had separate meetings with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the leaders of the three Baltic nations (Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda, Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Latvia's President Egils Levits) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Harris emphasized that "our commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty is ironclad and that we stand united with our NATO Allies in opposing Russian aggression," a readout from the White House said. The Baltic leaders also 'discussed efforts to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and collective defence. zz

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