KIEV: On a day when India advised its citizens in Ukraine to temporarily leave that country amid escalating tension over Russia’s increasing military build-up at the border, Indian students studying in the country spoke to NDTV about the challenges in following the directive.
“The situation is really tense. Some students have already booked their flights but the flights are cancelled,” Harsh Goyal, a student in Ukraine, said.
“The Indian government has asked students to leave but prices are really high. Some students here can’t afford it. How would the government ensure their safety?” he said.
“We are continuously in touch with the embassy through emails and calls. They have said you all are safe here. If something is going to happen, they will evacuate us,” Mr Goyal added.
Ashish Giri, another student in the eastern European country said, “Our family is very worried… There are no available tickets till February 20. Most of the tickets are booked and the ones available, are so expensive, we can’t afford (them).”
In an advisory on Tuesday, the Indian embassy in capital Kyiv asked Indian nationals to avoid all non-essential travel to and within Ukraine.
“In view of the uncertainties of the current situation in Ukraine, Indian nationals in Ukraine, particularly students whose stay is not essential, may consider leaving temporarily,” it said.
“Indian nationals are also advised to avoid all non-essential travel to and within Ukraine,” the embassy said.
The number of Indians living in Ukraine at present is not immediately known. According to an official document in 2020, Ukraine had a relatively small Indian community and about 18,000 Indian students were studying in that country. The data is likely to vary because of the pandemic.
In the advisory, the Indian embassy in Ukraine also asked Indian nationals to keep it informed about their status to enable the mission to reach out to them when needed.
“Indian nationals are requested to keep the Embassy informed about the status of their presence in Ukraine to enable the Embassy to reach them where required,” the embassy said.
It said the mission continues to function normally to provide all services to Indian nationals in Ukraine.
The US and its Western allies have been severely critical of Russia over its continuing build-up of forces near the Ukraine border.
The US has already sent extra troops to Europe to support its allies in the backdrop of fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has positioned around 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine besides sending warships into the Black Sea for naval exercises, triggering concerns among the NATO countries about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has been denying that it plans to invade Ukraine.