PM Modi Ukrainian President

Delhi, Mar 07: PM Narendra Modi spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday, hours before an expected call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, government sources said amid desperate efforts to evacuate hundreds of Indians still stranded in the warzone.

PM Modi sought his “support” in the evacuation of Indian students stuck in northeastern Ukraine’s Sumy city. Around 700 Indian students are stranded in Sumy amid intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops.

In a phone conversation that lasted for around 35 minutes, Prime Minister Modi thanked President Zelenskyy for the help extended by the government of Ukraine in evacuation of Indian nationals from Ukraine, official sources said.

“Prime Minister Modi sought continued support from the government of Ukraine in ongoing efforts for evacuation of Indian nationals from Sumy,” a source said about the talks.

The sources said the two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine. Modi appreciated the continuing direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, they said.

It was the second telephonic conversation between Modi and Zelenskyy after the conflict began in Ukraine.

PM Modi appreciated the “continuing direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine” and thanked President Zelensky for his government’s help in evacuating Indians from Ukraine, sources said.

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On Monday morning, Russia said it will hold fire and open “humanitarian corridors” in several Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, at 10 AM Moscow time (12.30 PM IST). The Interfax news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying that the corridors, also to be opened from Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy, are being set up at the personal request of French President Emmanuel Macron and in view of the current situation in those cities.

This is the second time that PM Modi spoke with the Ukrainian President; they spoke last on February 26, days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. That conversation followed India’s abstention from a UN vote to condemn Russia’s aggression.

PM Modi is expected to speak to President Putin later in the afternoon.PM Modi has spoken to the Russian President twice since the war broke out.

India is trying to move out hundreds of Indians, mainly students, still stuck in war-hit Ukraine.

The government’s latest effort involves students stuck in a medical college hostel in the Ukrainian city of Sumy. Yesterday, the Indian Embassy asked these students to “be ready to leave on short notice”. A team of officials has been stationed in Poltava – nearly a three-hour drive from Sumy – to coordinate the safe passage of the students.

The students in Sumy had shared videos saying they have decided to take a risky journey to the Russian border that’s 50 kilometres away. They, however, decided to stay put after the government contacted them and advised them to “avoid unnecessary risks”.