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India opens new route through Moldova to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine: MEA

India on Monday opened a new route in the Western part of Ukraine through Moldova to evacuate its citizens as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to evolve rapidly.

India opens new route through Moldova to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine: MEA
Representative image (Source: Reuters)

New Delhi

Speaking at a special briefing on Operation Ganga to bring back stranded students and Indian citizens from the conflict-torn Ukraine, Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, "I am happy to announce that we have also been able to open a new route through Moldova. An MEA team reached Moldova today morning as Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla has mentioned yesterday. That team is now in place. They will assist in the evacuation operations of Indians through Romania as Moldova is land-locked." 

"These people will come into Moldova, then go from Moldova into Romania and then to Bucharest and fly out from there. This new route should help Indians in Southern Ukraine around Odesa and those places and those near Ukraine-Moldova borders," added Bagchi. 

India has evacuated over 8000 nationals since the initial advisories were issued by the country and six evacuation flights have landed in India bringing back around 1400 citizens. 

"We are separately expanding evacuation process through the Hungary border. There is a city of Uzhhorod that Foreign Secretary mentioned yesterday, we are using that as a staging point for that area. It is far southwest of Ukraine and Hungary also, we have good movement of people," said Bagchi. 

He also said that MEA officials are aware that some people were waiting on Moldova's side, some people have crossed into Moldova but couldn't enter Romania. 

"So, we are now looking how we can move them from Ukraine into Moldova and into Romania. It's in process, but, some people are already in Moldova and we are trying to see how they can be helped into Romania and into Bucharest," said the spokesperson. 

MEA also informed that the government will send four Union Ministers as four special envoys to neighboring countries of Ukraine to coordinate evacuations of stranded Indians amid ongoing Russian military operations in Ukraine. 

"Decision to deploy special envoys to the four countries bordering Ukraine. Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia will be going to Romania, Kiren Rijiju to the Slovak Republic, Hardeep Puri to Hungary, VK Singh to Poland to coordinate and oversee the evacuation process," Bagchi said further.

"Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kiren Rijiju, and Gen (Retd) VK Singh will travel to neighboring countries of Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation mission and help students," he said. 

Bagchi also recalled External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar's efforts regarding the evacuation of Indians from Ukraine. 

"You would recall EAM spoke to Moldovan and Hungarian counterparts yesterday and sought their support in facilitating the evacuation of Indian citizens. Today he spoke to Polish Foreign Minister. At various levels we are engaged with countries with the primary focus on safety and security of our nationals," said Bagchi. 

S Jaishankar spoke with his Hungarian and Moldovian counterparts on Sunday and discussed cooperation for the evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis. 

The EAM thanked the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto for aiding the evacuation of Indian Nationals from Ukraine and requested further cooperation. 

Taking to Twitter, Jaishankar said, "Called up Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto. Thankful for the evacuation support provided so far. Requested further cooperation on the Hungary-Ukraine border." 

Jaishankar also spoke with Moldova Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu and sought support for the entry of Indian Nationals on the Ukraine-Moldova border. 

"Called Foreign Minister @nicupopescu of Moldova seeking support for facilitating the entry of our nationals on the Ukraine-Moldova border. Appreciate his ready response and strong support. #TeamMEA representatives will accordingly reach there tomorrow," said Jaishankar in a separate tweet. 

Amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis, the Indian Embassy in Kyiv has advised Indian citizens against moving to any of the border checkpoints without prior coordination with government officials at border posts. 

"We request Indians to go to West Ukraine but don't reach the border directly as there's rush there, it'll take time. Go to nearby cities, seek shelter there. We're making arrangements there, our teams will help you. Don't panic, we have enough flights," added Bagchi.

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