Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via videoconference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (Photo:AP)
New Delhi: In the wake of the Russian military offensive against Ukraine, Russia on Friday said it's President Vladimir Putin would give necessary instructions to ensure the security of Indian citizens in Ukraine in a response to a request by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This comes even as external affairs minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar spoke to both his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and American counterpart Antony J. Blinken to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
In a sign of mounting Western pressure on India, US secretary of state Blinken told EAM Jaishankar about the "importance of a strong collective response to condemn Russia’s invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and ceasefire". Asked about whether India was in sync with the US on the Ukraine issue, US President Joe Biden had told reporters that the US would hold consultations with India and that the matter "had not been fully resolved as yet".
India, a time-tested friend of Russia for decades, has so far not condemned the Russian actions but has emphasised that the issue can only be resolved through dialogue.
In a brief statement, the US state department said, "Secretary of state Antony J. Blinken spoke with Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar today to discuss Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine. Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a strong collective response to condemn Russia’s invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and ceasefire."
On the phone call between PM Modi and President Putin late on Thursday night, Russia, in its readout in the early hours of Friday morning, said, "While discussing the situation around Ukraine, (Russian President) Vladimir Putin outlined the fundamental assessments of Kyiv’s aggressive actions against the civilian population of Donbass, as well as its long-lasting destructive policy aimed at scrapping the Minsk agreements. Given these circumstances, and also in connection with the unacceptable for Russia the US’ and its Nato allies’ military developments on the territory of Ukraine, it was decided to launch a special military operation." Moscow added, "The Prime Minister of India thanked Vladimir Putin for the clarification and asked for assistance in ensuring the security of Indian citizens who currently stay in Ukraine. The President of Russia said that the necessary instructions would be given."
Interestingly, India in its statement posted on Thursday night had said that PM Modi had "appealed for an immediate cessation of violence" while also "calling for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue". But there was no mention of this appeal by New Delhi in the Russian statement, perhaps indicating that Moscow will not roll back on its move for now.
Meanwhile, EAM Jaishankar also spoke to his counterparts in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia which share land borders with Ukraine through which India intends to evacuate thousands of its citizens from the war-torn nation of Ukraine.
EAM Jaishankar tweeted, "Deeply appreciate the support from FM @BogdanAurescu of Romania on evacuating Indian nationals from Ukraine. @MEAIndia is working with @MAERomania to ensure border crossing expeditiously. Times of difficulty that's what friends are for."
The EAM further tweeted, "Reached out to my friend FM Péter Szijjártó of Hungary on the Ukraine evacuation. He has promised full cooperation to facilitate evacuation from Debrecen. Thank him for his understanding." The EAM added, "Spoke to FM @IvanKorcok . Discussed the situation in Ukraine. Appreciate his willingness to facilitate the evacuation of Indian nationals through Slovakia."