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Move to nearby bomb shelters, Indian embassy in Kiev tells students stranded in Ukraine

Google Maps has a list of nearby bomb shelters, many of which are located in underground metros, the Indian embassy in Kiev said in its advisory on Thursday as situation remains highly tense in Ukraine (Image courtesy: Twitter)

The Indian embassy in Kiev has issued a third advisory, asking Indian citizens in the country to move to nearby bomb shelters as situation continues to remain "highly tense" and "very uncertain" following Russia's launch of special military operations in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region early Thursday.

"As you are aware, Ukraine is under martial law, which has made movement difficult. For those students who are stranded without a place of stay in Kiev, Mission is in touch with establishments to put them up," the Indian embassy's advisory stated.

"We are aware that certain places are hearing air sirens/bomb warnings. In case you are faced with such a situation, Google Maps has a list of nearby bomb shelters, many of which are located in underground metros. For those in Kiev, the official link from KMDA Kiev city administration is here," the embassy added.
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There are more than 20,000 Indian students and nationals living and studying in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas.

New Delhi had already made it clear, even at the United Nations’ Security Council briefings, that the well-being of Indian nationals is of top priority to the Indian government. 

Last week, a Control Room was set up by the Ministry of External Affairs to provide information and assistance.

Air India had on Tuesday flown its first 'special ferry flight' to Kiev to airlift Indian citizens from Ukraine. Two more such flights were scheduled for Thursday and Saturday. However, the Air India plane which took off for Kiev earlier today had to return after the closure of airspace in the eastern European nation.

The Ukrainian State Air Traffic Services Enterprise (UkSATSe) said it took the decision to temporarily close the airspace of Ukraine for civil aviation due to the high risk to aviation security.

In a message earlier today, Partha Satpathy, the Ambassador of India to Ukraine, urged the Indian nationals in Ukraine to stay wherever they were and in their familiar locations.

"The air space is closed, railway schedules are in flux and roads are crammed. I would request everyone to stay calm and face the situation with fortitude," Satpathy wrote. 

"I am inundated with calls, so is the embassy and we are doing our best to help," he stated.

Ukraine severs diplomatic relations with Russia; Lavrov dials Wang Yi

Ukraine on Thursday announced the severance of diplomatic relations with Russia, emphasising that the Russian offensive operation is an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, a gross violation of the UN Charter, and the established norms and principles of international law.

"Our country took this step in response to acts of military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the invasion of Russian Armed Forces to destroy the Ukrainian state and the seizure by force of Ukrainian territories with the intent of establishing occupation control," said Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The country's government also reported that the Russian forces have started to break through the state border in Kiev region.

"Enemy vehicles entered across the Vilcha border crossing point. Border guards together with the Ukrainian army started defence activities. Besides, enemy shelled Mlachivka border guard division using rocket systems," it said in a statement.

Russia, meanwhile, reiterated today that the reason for the current crisis was Kiev's refusal, "encouraged by the United States and its allies", to implement the Minsk 'Package of Measures' approved by the UN Security Council.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also spoke to China's Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi today.

"An exchange of views took place on the current situation in eastern Ukraine in the context of Russia's recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and on the decision of President Vladimir Putin in response to the appeal of the heads of the DPR and LPR and with the sanction of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on a special military operation to protecting people, including hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens, from a real threat to their lives and security posed by the current Ukrainian regime, which does not abandon attempts to solve the 'Donbass problem' by force," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


Also Read: Russia launches military operation in Donbass, Putin urges Ukrainian military to lay down arms