The actions of the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, and several other nations, pale in comparison with the proactive and earnest efforts of Indian authorities who are now operating the evacuation schedule, Operation Ganga, in the complete swing to bring back Indian students from different parts of Ukraine.
Thousands of Indian citizens in Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has left many foreigners stranded in a besieged country. The forces of Ukraine and Russia are engaged in intense fighting in parts of the north, south, and east of Ukraine. Meanwhile, thousands of Indian citizens in Ukraine, most of whom are medical students are looking for a way out, while their families in India request for their safe evacuation and back to India.
The Indian government has dedicated to the task and most recently, it has sent four ministers to nations neighboring Ukraine, who are expected to coordinate with Ukrainian authorities and those of neighboring nations to confirm the back of Indian students
United States and China
While India’s efforts are reminiscent of Operation Raahat in Yemen and the urgency and commitment offered by it are exemplary, other powers like the United States and China have near-about give up on evacuating their citizens from Ukraine and are bluntly stating the same, shedding their commitment towards their citizens.
U.S. citizens from Ukraine
After the invasion started, a US advisory said, “The U.S. government will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens from Ukraine.” It has asked its nationals to use commercially or privately-owned transportation to cross the border. The US shut its embassy in Kyiv on the 14th of February and carried a small team to Lviv before relocating to Poland.
China, which did not give any travel advisories to almost 6000 Chinese students in Ukraine, has delayed its evacuation program. On the 24th of February, it requested its citizens leaving Kyiv to show signs of identification such as the Chinese flag, but on the 26th, it redacted its statement and said that the Chinese must refrain from displaying signs of identification.
The UK has relocated its embassy from Kyiv to Lviv, a city just 80 kilometers from the Polish border, and stated explicitly that British Nationals should not expect increased consular support or help with evacuating in these circumstances. “Russia’s military action in Ukraine will severely affect the British Government’s ability to give consular assistance in Ukraine.” Instead, Britain has asked its nationals to follow the guidance of Ukrainian authorities.
Meanwhile, Germany has shut down its embassy in Ukraine and stated that “an evacuation by German authorities is currently not possible.” African students from Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt, and more, are also stranded and seeking support from their countries.
India’s embassy is still functional in Kyiv
Compare this with the Indian effort— India’s embassy is still functional in Kyiv. Indian authorities have released phone numbers and launched other modes of contact where stranded Indian students can reach out and coordinate with Indian officials. Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, on Monday, told that out of the nearly 20,000 Indian students, over 1400 have been evacuated so far, while almost 8000 had heeded the journey advisories and left the country before the invasion started. India’s first travel advisory urging citizens to leave Ukraine was issued on February 15th, nine days before Russia’s military advance into the Eastern European country.
While it has been difficult to ensure the seamless movement of citizens from the eastern parts of Ukraine to the western borders, Indian officials are coordinating actions with Ukrainian authorities to run special trains amid intense fighting. At the border, stranded foreigners are facing long waiting periods amid sub-zero temperatures, and the Indian nationals have been advised to not travel directly to the border checkpoints without coordinating with Indian authorities.
Reports of racial profiling and violence towards non-white students at the hands of Ukrainian border guards have further made the use of diplomacy important. Four Indian ministers shall press the effort further from neighboring nations.
Jyotiraditya Scindia is tasked with coordinating OpGanga efforts from Romania and Moldova. Kiren Rijiju has been assigned to handle matters through Slovakia.
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Hardeep Puri will head to Hungary and General VK Singh will be managing the evacuation plan from Poland. Prime Minister Modi, meanwhile, has raised the matter of the safety of Indian students with Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.
Two countries are at war and the main powers of the world are facing limitations in evacuating their citizens, but it is clear that the Indian government is leaving no stone unturned to bring Operation Ganga to fruition.
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