There have been several Indian students who have released recordings in which they claim to be mistreated by Ukrainian officials. This combined with the reports from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine have been holding Indian students hostage in Kharkiv to use them as human shields is quite alarming in the current scenario.
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In the context of increasing hostilities in Ukraine, Russia claims that the Ukrainians are detaining a bunch of Indian students captive in order to employ them as human shields.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time in less than a week, during which he stated that Ukrainian soldiers are employing Indian students as human shields in their continuing confrontation with Russian forces.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also told India that his country’s military was doing everything in its power to secure the safe repatriation of Indians from the “war zone.”
According to the Kremlin’s summary of the call, Putin has directed his troops to arrange the “urgent evacuation of a group of Indian students from Kharkov (Kharkiv) through the humanitarian corridor along the shortest route to Russia.”
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“At the same time, according to the latest information, these students are actually taken hostage by the Ukrainian security forces, who use them as a human shield and in every possible way prevent them from leaving for Russia. Responsibility, in this case, lies entirely with the Kiev (Kyiv) authorities,” the Kremlin readout said.
PM Modi and President Putin spoke many hours after Indians stuck in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv were instructed to vacate and travel to three places, Pesochin, Babaye (both in Ukraine), and Bezlyudovka (in Russia), inside four hours, even on foot if absolutely required.
Due to the escalating circumstances, the Indian embassy in Ukraine released an urgent warning to all Indians in Kharkiv to evacuate promptly. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, presently has the highest concentration of Indians.
According to the Indian interpretation of Modi and Putin’s chat, the two discussed the crisis in Ukraine, particularly in the districts surrounding Kharkiv, where several Indian students are stranded.
“They discussed the safe evacuation of the Indian nationals from the conflict areas,” the readout read.
The Russians had promised to grant Indians with a safe route via their land, according to the Russian envoy yesterday.
India says no reports of any student held hostage
In another remark, the MEA stated that India has “not received reports of any hostage situation regarding any student” as a result of the situation in Ukraine. According to the statement, the Indian government has demanded that special trains be organized to transport students out of Kharkiv and surrounding areas.
Previously, the Russian Defense Ministry declared that Russian military services are prepared to take all essential steps to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian citizens.
“And send them home from the Russian territory with its own military transport planes or Indian planes, as the Indian side proposed to do,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Earlier, there had been reports that Zelenskyy’s leadership was deploying citizens as human shields to obstruct the advance of the Russian army. According to reports, Ukraine reportedly placed Indian students in a hostage position near the Polish border.
Zelenskyy's regime made it a point to use civilians as human shields against advancing Russian troops. These are the tactics used by terrorists across the world: Victor Sumsky, Senior Expert of ASEAN Centre in MGIMO University#PutinEscalatesWar | @RShivshankar pic.twitter.com/96ohkO5Kvq— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) March 1, 2022
Ukraine establishes hotline for evacuation
After Russia asserted that Ukrainian troops were utilizing Indians as human shields to defend themselves, Ukraine claimed to have set up an emergency hotline for African, Asian, and other students who wanted to escape Ukraine due to Russia’s military incursion.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, suggested that trapped students could call a hotline to be safely evacuated. He went on to say that they will be striving hard to secure their safety and expedite the passage.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the students were handed the opportunity to evacuate Ukraine through the Ukrainian-Polish border. “They offered to go through the territory where active hostilities are taking place,” according to the statement.
According to sources, over 3,000 students are still stuck in these towns, the most of whom are in Kharkiv.
It is worth noting that several Indian students have released recordings in which they claim to be mistreated by Ukrainian officials and are unable to board trains.
US says no incidents of using civilians as human shields
In the meantime, the US Department of State stated on Wednesday that it has not received any verifiable reports of Ukraine employing Indian students as human shields.
According to the State Department, these charges are frequently utilized in Russian disinformation.
“We have seen no verified reports of these incidents, and these types of reports about using civilians as human shields are commonly used in Russian disinformation,” a US Department of State spokesperson said.