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Ground situation difficult, rapidly evolving in Ukraine, safety of Indian national topmost priority: Foreign Secretary Shringla

New Delhi : Amid the ongoing Russian military operations in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla on Thursday said that the situation on the ground is "difficult and rapidly evolving" assuring that the government's topmost priority is the safety and security of Indian nationals. Addressing a special briefing on the Ukraine situation following the CCS meet here, Shringla said, "The situation on the ground is difficult and is rapidly evolving." Shringla said that the government of India will handle the evacuation with utmost precaution "Roadways have been mapped out to evacuate Indian nationals from Kiev and reach safer places," he said. He said that a number of advisories have been issued by embassies on the situation as it evolves "Our Embassy in Ukraine continues to be functional. A number of advisories have been issued by embassies on the situation as it evolves. We are consulting universities, student contractors in the process of providing welfare and safety of our students," said Shringla At the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that the topmost priority of the government is the safety and security of Indian nationals including students in Ukraine, he said. "One important step we have taken is to pursue all universities in Ukraine to conduct online classes. PM Modi has specifically stated that the MEA should do everything possible for our citizens in Ukraine," he added. Shringla said that MEA is in touch with the Ministry of Defence to keep provision for airlift (of Indians) capacity, in regard to the situation in Ukraine. He further said that number of steps have been taken to deal with the emerging situation in Ukraine. Highlighting the steps taken by the government for facilitating the return of Indians from Ukraine, he said, "We started the registration of Indian nationals in Ukraine about a month ago. Based on online registration, we found that 20,000 Indian nationals were there." "4000 Indian nationals have already left Ukraine in the past few days. The MEA control room in Delhi has got 980 calls and 850 emails, he added. He said that PM Modi is also scheduled to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "It would be difficult to guess in advance the nature of the conversation between Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The conversations will be around the situation in Ukraine today," said Foreign Secretary. He added that some sanctions have been imposed on Russia by the UK, US, Australia, Japan among others. "We have to see what impacts these sanctions will have on our interests. Any sanctions will have an impact on our relationship, I think it would be correct to acknowledge that," he added. The tensions between the two nations escalated after Putin on Monday recognized Ukraine's breakaway regions - Donetsk and Luhansk - as independent entities escalating the ongoing tensions between the two countries. Ukraine gained independence in 1991 after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Earlier today, Putin said special military operations are being launched "to protect" the people in the Donbas region. He also warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences". Leaders from a number of countries including the UK, the US, Canada, and the European Union have condemned Russia's military operations in the Donbas region.

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