MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Russia is taking every effort to help Indian nationals leave Ukraine safely, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.
The Kremlin said that Modi called Putin on Wednesday and they focused on "evacuation of the Indian citizens who are currently in Ukraine."
"Putin emphasized that every necessary instruction has been issued, and the Russian service members are doing their utmost to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian nationals from the zone of hostilities and their return home," the Kremlin said.
"In particular, Russia is doing its best to organize the urgent evacuation of a group of Indian students from Kharkov via a humanitarian corridor by the shortest route to Russia," the Kremlin said.
Nevertheless, "according to the latest reports, in fact, those students have been taken hostage by Ukrainian forces that are using them as a human shield and hampering their evacuation to Russian territory. The responsibility for this lies entirely with the Kiev authorities," the Kremlin said.
The Russian presidential press service said that "the leaders agreed to maintain close interaction to provide security for Indian citizens in Ukraine."
For its part, the Indian government’s press service informed about the conversation, noting that the Indian nationals’ secure evacuation from the combat zones had been brought up.
Situation with Indian students
Earlier in the day, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the Ukrainian authorities were forcibly detaining a large group of Indian students in Kharkov. He added that the young people want to leave Ukrainian territory for Belgorod. However, they are being held hostage and are offered to leave Ukraine across the Ukrainian-Polish border, which means they will have to travel through the territory where hostilities are raging.
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman assured that the Russian armed forces are ready to take all necessary measures to safely evacuate Indian citizens and send them home from Russia on its own military transport planes or on Indian aircraft, as was suggested by the Indian side.