India: Ukraine evacuation could fly 20,000 citizens from potential war zone

Six special flights arranged over fears of full-scale invasion and occupation by Russia

Thousands of Indian citizens are likely to be flown from Boryspil Airport, Ukraine, 30km from Kiev, in the next few days. AFP

India is operating special flights to bring back its citizens from Ukraine, mostly students, over growing fears of a full-scale Russian invasion.

An Air India Dreamliner took off from capital Delhi early on Tuesday for Kiev — the first of the six special flights that will take Indians to safety from the eastern European country.

Fears of a war in the region have been looming for weeks after Moscow started a military build-up on the border with Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday accused Moscow of wrecking peace efforts and violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country, after Russian soldiers were sent to Donetsk, a breakaway region that has been rocked by conflict between Ukrainians and Kremlin-backed rebels.

More than 20,000 Indians are living in Ukraine, 18,000 of them students.

The South Asian nation had on Monday called for restraint on all sides at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the issues, when it said “the escalation of tension along the border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation is a matter of deep concern”.

Last week, the Indian embassy in Kiev had asked Indians, particularly students whose stay is not essential, to leave the country temporarily amid increasing fears of war.

Updated: February 22, 2022, 8:44 AM