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Modi spoke to Putin, Zelenskyy and ensured safe passage to Indian students: Jaishankar

Modi called Putin twice and Zelenskyy once for the safe passage of Indian students from Kharkiv and Sumy, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 14:15 IST
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 14:15 IST

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Mumbai: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said PM Modi had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ensure safe passage for Indian students from war-affected areas of Ukraine.

During an interaction with editors in Mumbai, Jaishankar shared minute details of how things unfolded.

Modi called Putin twice and Zelenskyy once for the safe passage of Indian students from Kharkiv and Sumy, he said.

Jaishankar was responding to a query on Modi government's operation to evacuate Indian students from Ukraine after Russia invaded that country on February 24, 2022.

“There were two incidents. In Kharkiv city and Sumy. In Kharkiv incident, we had asked the students to come out of the city and go to a designated spot so that they could be picked up by us,” Jaishankar said.

“Everything was set. People started moving. And then the Russians started firing on that place which we had designated (as the pickup point), because of some misunderstanding.

“PM Modi called up Putin and told him that our people have worked out a safe zone and (asked him) how can you fire on the safe zone. Putin said he will do the needful. After two-three hours, we got a message that the firing had stopped,” Jaishankar said.

The Sumy operation was a bigger one, he said.

“Incident two was a bigger issue. This was a city called Sumy. There, distant firing and also automatic (weapons) firing was taking place. Those stuck there were feeling desperate and others had left by then. They were feeling that they were trapped,” he said.

“This place was to the north and closer to the fighting area. We kept telling the students, don’t worry, we will get you out. We sent buses there. We had an understanding at our level that they (students) will leave and there would be no firing (during that passage).

“As soon as they boarded the bus, the firing started. Russia said Ukraine started it and Ukraine said Russia started it. So these people (students) went back and they got very upset. They said they want a safe passage. They said they won’t be coming out and somebody has to come and get them,” Jaishankar said.

“We sent two volunteers, who were Russians, from Delhi. They said they will meet the students and get them out but would need a pathway. We needed an agreement for the entire route and not just to avert firing at any one place.

“PM Modi called up Putin and Zelenskyy. He told them that this is the route and he has to evacuate the students. Both Putin and Zelenskyy agreed. So this is how it happened,” he said.

“I was there when PM spoke to these leaders,” Jaishankar said.

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Published 13 May 2024, 14:15 IST

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