India has asked its citizens including students who are living in Ukraine to return if their stay in Ukraine “is not deemed essential”. Family members of Indian embassy staff in the East European nation will also be sent home, a report said on February 20.

In a second advisory, the Indian embassy in Ukraine said Indian citizens should look for any available commercial or charter flight to get out of the country amid tensions over a possible invasion by Russia. The earlier advisory asked students to leave Ukraine as soon as possible.

“In view of the continued high levels of tensions and uncertainties with respect to the situation in Ukraine, all Indian nationals whose stay is not deemed essential and all Indian students, are advised to leave Ukraine temporarily,” the Indian embassy in Ukraine tweeted.

“Indian students are advised to also get in touch with respective student contractors for updates on charter flights, and also continue to follow embassy Facebook, website and Twitter for any update,” the India embassy said.

Indians in Ukraine who need information and assistance can also contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or MEA, which has set up a dedicated control room. There were reports of people not getting flight tickets earlier this week. India’s embassy in Ukraine has a 24-hour helpline.

Air India, which was recently sold to Tata group by the government, will fly three special aircraft to Ukraine on February 22, 24 and 26. The flights will operate to and from Boryspil International Airport, Ukraine’s largest.

Last-ditch diplomatic efforts are underway today to prevent what Western powers warn could be the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine and a catastrophic European war.

A telephone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine got underway on February 20 as planned. Russia, according to Western leaders, has more than 150,000 troops along with missile batteries and warships massed around Ukraine, poised to strike.

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