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PM speaks to Putin and Zelenskyy; seeks safe and quick evacuation of Indians stuck in Sumy

PM speaks to Putin and Zelenskyy; seeks safe and quick evacuation of Indians stuck in Sumy

New Delhi: As the Russia-Ukraine war entered its 12th day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and sought their support in the safe and quick evacuation of the Indian students stuck in Ukraine's embattled Sumy city.

Noting that India has always stood for peaceful resolution of issues, Modi during his separate conversations with Putin and Zelenskyy suggested direct conversation between them, saying it may "greatly assist" the peace efforts.

In the last few days, India has been particularly focusing on the evacuation of around 700 Indian students from Sumy, and also strongly pressed both the Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire in the region for their safe exit from there.

During his 50-minute phone conversation with Putin, Modi stressed the importance of safe evacuation of Indian citizens from Sumy "at the earliest" and the Russian President assured him of all possible cooperation to safely get them out of the city, official sources said.

A Russian readout of the Modi-Putin talks said the Russian President informed the Indian leader about the decision of his armed forces to "establish a ceasefire and open humanitarian corridors today amid the worsening of the humanitarian situation".

It said the Russian military is making every effort to ensure the evacuation of the Indian citizens from Sumy and that Modi expressed gratitude to the Russian side for the measures taken for their exit from the conflict zone.

"Prime Minister Modi conveyed his deep concern for the safety and security of the Indian students remaining in Sumy. President Putin briefed the Prime Minister about the ongoing measures related to humanitarian corridors for facilitating the evacuation of civilians including Indian students," the PMO said.

Welcoming the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, the Prime Minister expressed hope that they would lead to the cessation of the conflict.

"He (Modi) suggested that a direct conversation between President Putin and President Zelenskyy may greatly assist the ongoing peace efforts," the PMO said.

Modi first spoke to Zelenskyy for around 35-minutes during which he sought the Ukrainian president's "support" in the evacuation of the Indians stuck there, official sources said.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said Modi, during his talks with Zelenskyy, expressed "deep concern for safety and security of Indian students remaining in Ukraine and emphasised the need for their quick and safe evacuation."

Modi also thanked Zelensky for the help extended by the Ukrainian authorities for the evacuation of Indian nationals.

The Ukrainian President briefed Modi in detail about the "conflict situation" and the ongoing negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, the PMO said.

"The Prime Minister reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of violence and noted that India has always stood for peaceful resolution of issues and direct dialogue between the two parties," it said.

"The Prime Minister thanked Ukrainian authorities for their facilitation in evacuating more than 20,000 Indian citizens from Ukraine," the PMO said.

In a tweet, Zelenskyy said he informed Modi about how Ukraine is "countering Russian aggression".

"Informed Indian Prime Minister @narendramodi about Ukraine countering Russian aggression. India appreciates the assistance to its citizens during the war and Ukraine's commitment to direct peaceful dialogue at the highest level," the Ukrainian president said.

"Grateful for the support to the Ukrainian people," he added.

Modi's talks with Putin and Zelenskyy came on a day Russian authorities said they would start a ceasefire and open "humanitarian corridors" in key Ukrainian cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.

On Modi-Putin talks, the PMO statement said the two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine and Putin briefed Modi on the status of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian teams.

The Russian readout said Putin pointed out that the "Indian students held by the radicals in Kharkov (Kharkiv) managed to leave the city only after strong international pressure on the Kyiv authorities."

Last week, the Russian President had claimed that a large number of Indian citizens were held hostage in Kharkiv, but India had rejected the claim.

"Modi indicated his readiness to provide any possible assistance in order to resolve the conflict as soon as possible," the Russian government readout said.

In the last few days, India has been focusing on the evacuation of its students from Sumy, which has been under heavy shelling.

On Saturday morning, the Indian students posted a video saying they have decided to leave for the Russian border from Sumy and that the Indian government and the embassy in Ukraine will be responsible if anything happens to them.

Following the video, the Indian embassy in Ukraine requested them not to endanger their lives and conveyed that it will leave no stone unturned to safely evacuate them.

The students relented following the assurance.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Sunday said a team from the mission has been stationed in Poltava city to coordinate the safe passage of the Indian students in Sumy to Western borders via Poltava.

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