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Leave Kyiv urgently, India tells its citizens as IAF’s C-17 planes gear up to join Operation Ganga

The Indian Air Force has a fleet of 11 C-17 Globemaster IIIs and deploying it for 'Operation Ganga' would help in evacuating a large number of people in a much shorter duration (Image courtesy: Twitter/@Boeing_In)


Deeply concerned at the unfolding developments in Ukraine, India has decided to press its air force into action with IAF's massive long-haul military transport aircraft C-17 expected to get involved in the ongoing large-scale evacuation exercise of Indian citizens from the conflict zone under 'Operation Ganga'.

The decision to take IAF assistance was reportedly taken on Monday evening when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the ongoing efforts to bring back Indians stranded in Ukraine.

In its latest advisory on Tuesday afternoon, the Embassy of India in Ukraine advised all Indian nationals including students to leave Kyiv urgently, preferably by available trains or through any other means available.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also informed today that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv Tuesday morning.

"Foreign Secretary is calling in ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones. Similar action is also being undertaken by our Ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine," the MEA tweeted.

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During Monday’s meeting, PM Modi had said that the entire government machinery is working round the clock to ensure that all Indian nationals in Ukraine are safe and secure. He had also emphasised that the visit of four senior ministers as his Special Envoys to various nations will energize the evacuation efforts.

As the ninth 'Operation Ganga' flight departed Bucharest for New Delhi with 218 Indian nationals on Tuesday morning, the government is believed to have told the IAF to join the evacuation efforts and also help in delivering humanitarian aid to the region.

India is dispatching today the first consignment of relief supplies to Ukraine to deal with the humanitarian situation on its borders.

Guided by India's motto of the world being one family, PM Modi had also stated yesterday that New Delhi will help people from neighbouring countries and developing countries who are stranded in Ukraine and may seek assistance.

"The Air Force is ready and we will use it if needed. Right now, as I was saying, our problem is not with aircraft, it is that we want people should leave. We can send two aircraft every day, what is the problem, but the same is the focus right now that they should cross the border," Arindam Bagchi, the MEA spokesperson had said in a special briefing on 'Operation Ganga', yesterday.

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Inducted in 2013, the Indian Air Force has a fleet of 11 C-17 Globemaster IIIs and deploying it for 'Operation Ganga' would help in evacuating a large number of people in a much shorter duration.

The C-17's, which have been leading India's military and humanitarian airlift capabilities for a long time now, have the ability to fly long distances and land in remote airfields in rough, land-locked regions making it a premier transporter for military, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.

A high-wing, 4-engine, T-tailed military-transport aircraft, the multi-service C-17 can carry large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain anywhere in the world. The massive, sturdy, long-haul aircraft tackles distance, destination and heavy, oversized payloads in unpredictable conditions. It has delivered cargo in every worldwide operation since the 1990s.

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The induction of C-17 aircraft has changed the dynamics of strategic mobility and reach of the Indian Air Force, especially during the Covid pandemic as the aircraft ferried tonnes of medical supplies and airlifted Indian nationals from several countries.

Also Read: Ukraine crisis: India ready to help neighbours and other developing countries in evacuation efforts