Indian students in Ukraine post a video appealing for help with evacuation


The Indian Embassy in Kyiv has sent out an advisory:

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. Indian nationals are also advised to avoid all non-essential travel to and within Ukraine.

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 continues to function normally to provide all services to Indian nationals in Ukraine.

At this point, assistance to the nationals — including an estimated 18,000 students — is limited to a helpline number.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, FEB 14: Adarsh, a medical student in Chernivtsi, says, “There’s utter panic amongst Indian students here in Ukraine. We haven’t been told whether we should stay or leave.”

He tries to maintain his hopes, “I have full faith that Prime Minister Modi will bring us to safety soon.”

Last week a series of countries, from the US to The Netherlands to Australia, withdrew non-essential Embassy staff and advised their nationals not to travel to Ukraine, amid the threat of Russian invasion and bombing

Ukrainian universities are popular among students of medicine and engineering. The Indian Embassy says there are about 18,000 nationals who are enrolled in the country.

Concern has swelled within the student community as Israel, Japan, the UK, and other countries joined the calls for their citizens to depart.

Dheeraj is a medical student in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and in the path of any Russian assault on northeast Ukraine. He told EA WorldView:

It’s not just us. Many of our parents have also reached out to the authorities here requesting to respond on the current situation. We still haven’t heard from the Embassy.

He repeats the mantra, “We have full faith that PM Modi and the Embassy will reach out soon.”

The Indian Embassy in Kyiv has uploaded a Google form on its official Facebook and Twitter pages, requesting details “to coordinate with Indian citizens effectively, and disseminate information in a swift manner”.

Students are told that the Embassy is closely monitoring the situation and advises them to “continue to follow the Embassy website, Facebook, and Twitter pages for further updates”.

The Embassy pages are flooded with comments from students and parents.

Speaking from Chernivtsi, Adarsh explains to EA:

Along with three other friends, we have decided to leave and not wait for a response from the Embassy. We need to look out for our own safety and my parents are not ready to risk my life if in case Russia invades. The tickets are expensive and filling up fast. Also, if airlines shut operations as KLM did, I don’t want to be stranded here.

I need to get out ASAP.

Adarsh says his university has not updated if classes will move online.

Deeraj continues:

Leaving the country is a possibility for students who don’t have financial troubles. For some of us, we have to wait or we will lose out on classes. The tickets are expensive and if Russia doesn’t invade, we will miss out on savings and education.

At this point, all we can do is wait and watch.

EA has reached out to the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of India in Kyiv and is waiting for an official comment.

Students with whom EA spoke feared that Ukrainian airspace will shut down.

So far Ukraine has ruled out closing its airspace, while advising airlines to avoid flying over the open waters of the Black Sea from Monday to Saturday amid Russian naval exercises.

However, Dutch airline KLM has announced the suspension of flights and German carrier Lufthansa is considering the step.

Meanwhile, the students and parents wait in uncertainty.