Air India flight ferrying Indian citizens from Ukraine arrives in New Delhi

New Delhi: The first Air India flight ferrying Indian citizens from Ukraine arrived at New Delhi’s IGI Airport at pm on Tuesday (February 21) night. The Tata Group-led Air India’s special flight to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv took off at 7.30 am on Tuesday.

The flight was expected to land at T3, IGI Airport, around 10.15 pm with full capacity. But the flight GOT delayed and arrived after 11.30 pm at IGI airport.

“Around 250 Indians and students belonging to various states are returning from Ukraine to Delhi tonight. More flights in the coming days to help Indians return,” Minister of State for External Affairs of India V. Muraleedharan had said earlier.

Air India will be operating two more flights to Kiev on February 24 and 26. Besides Air India, other Indian operators are expected to start special flight services to Ukraine.

The evacuation comes at a time when the tension between Russia and Ukraine continue to escalate, with the US and EU implementing sanctions against the Soviet nation. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision on Monday to recognize Ukraine’s breakaway regions – Donetsk and Luhansk – as independent entities has escalated the ongoing tensions between the two countries.

Earlier, former foreign secretary Shashank has said that the immediate priority for India is to make sure that about 20,000 Indian students in Ukraine remain safe and are out of “conflict zone” in case of any hostilities. “There is a feeling that Russia is perhaps no longer the same as the old Soviet Union, and so, perhaps, it should make peace with the stronger neighbors in the West, and particularly with the United States. Russia is not willing to accept that situation. And, therefore, we are in a position where Russia does not want any NATO soldiers or NATO armory or technical support very close to its borders,” Shashank told ANI.

He said India has made its stand on the present situation clear at the meeting of United Nations Security Council on developments in Ukraine. India on Tuesday strongly the need for all sides to exercise the utmost restraint and intensify diplomatic efforts to ensure a mutually amicable solution.”We have two important roles. We have about 20,000 Indian students studying in Ukraine. We have to make sure that they remain safe, they are out of the conflict zone if there is a conflict. Second, they continue to get all kinds of consular support from the Indian mission and from the local government wherever they are living,” Shashank said.

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