New Delhi: A flight from India is on its way to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, to bring back Indians amid fears of a war with Russia, news agency ANI reported.
It said that the Dreamliner B-787 Air India aircraft left for Ukraine in the morning for the special operation with a capacity of over 200 seats. The special flight from Ukraine will land in Delhi tonight.
Air India had earlier announced that it will be operating three flights to Kyiv on February 22, 23 and 26 to fly out Indians from Ukraine. According to the airline, booking is open through Air India booking offices, website, call centre and authorised travel agents.
The Indian Embassy in Kyiv had earlier issued advisory urging Indian nationals to leave the Eastern European country. There are many students enrolled in Ukraine’s colleges and other academic institutions.
According to TS Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador, there are more than 20,000 Indian students and nationals in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas.
“The well-being of Indians is of priority to us,” he said at an emergency UNSC meeting on the situation in Ukraine on Monday night.
Air India’s special ferry flight left for Kyiv after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two decrees recognizing ‘the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR)’ and ‘the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR)’ as independent and sovereign states.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of two separatist regions of Ukraine- Donetsk and Lugansk- in the early hours of Tuesday, international media reported.
Putin also officially signed friendship and aid agreements with the Russia-backed separatist leaders of Ukraine.
The announcement comes after Putin convened an emergency meeting of the Russian Security Council where he talked about recognising the “independence” of Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
Following Putin’s statement, Ukrainian President Zelensky convened a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.
“Given the statements made at the meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, I held urgent consultations with Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz and convened the National Security and Defence Council,” Zelensky said in a tweet.
On Monday, Putin said, “Those who embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed, lawlessness did not recognise and do not recognize any other solution to the Donbass issue, except for the military one. In this regard, I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.”
Vladimir Putin also said Ukraine never had a tradition of genuine statehood. “Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia, more precisely, Bolshevik, communist Russia. This process began immediately after the revolution of 1917,” Putin said.
Putin said Ukraine is not just a neighboring country, but part of Russia’s history. He said the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw Russia robbed and it put the country in a “really difficult position”.
Putin further alleged that Ukraine plans to unleash a war against Russians in Donbass and is acting on the orders from the West.
“Many European allies of the United States already perfectly understood all the risks of such a prospect, but were forced to come to terms with the will of their senior partner. The Americans simply used them to carry out a pronounced anti-Russian policy,” Putin said.
He claimed that Ukraine’s admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) would be a direct threat to Russia’s security. The presence of Nato training centres in Ukraine would amount to Nato military bases.
Calling Ukraine a “US colony” with a “puppet regime”, Putin claimed Ukraine plans to create its own nuclear weapons with Soviet nuclear know-how.
Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the recognition of the two separatist territories in Ukraine “is a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Minsk agreements”.
“The EU and its partners will react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine,” Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.
The 27-nation bloc European Union had warned Russia of sanctions if it tries to annex or recognize rebel Ukrainian regions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cancelled his trip to Congo and will return to headquarters in New York due to the “deteriorating situation regarding Ukraine,” AFP quoted his spokesman as saying.