The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has refuted reports of Russia stopping the war for six hours to facilitate the evacuation of Indians from Kharkiv city.
Since Wednesday, several reports and claims emerged saying that Russia has ‘halted’ the war in Kharkiv for six hours upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request in order to allow Indians to safely evacuate from the war-hit city.
During a media interaction, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi informed, “We got specific inputs that this is a route that is available... we conveyed that to our citizens, and I am happy that many could make it."
"Extrapolating that to say that somebody is holding off bombing or this is something we were coordinating is absolutely inaccurate,” he further said.
The Indian Embassy in Ukraine had on Wednesday issued two advisories, urging Indians to leave Kharkiv immediately.
"For their safety and security, they must leave Kharkiv immediately. Proceed to Pesochin, Babye, and Bazlyudovka as soon as possible. Under all circumstances, they must reach these settlements by 18:00 hours Ukranian time today," the first advisory read.
The second advisory reiterated the deteriorating situation in Kharkiv and stressed that Indian nationals must "leave Kharkiv immediately repeat immediately."
Notably, PM Modi had also called on Russian President Vladmir Putin on Wednesday regarding the situation.
Many news channels and portals have published reports claiming that the war was halted at PM Modi’s insistence, and said it reflected the “power of Indian democracy”.
Journalists, news outlets, even the BJP’s Maharashtra Twitter handle made the same claim.
With MEA’s official statement, it is now clear that the claim was false and could have been done for political mileage.
So far, a total of 18,000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine since the Indian Embassy’s first advisory was released.
"A total of 18,000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine since our first advisory was released. 30 flights under Operation Ganga have brought back 6,400 Indians from Ukraine so far. In the next 24 hours, 18 flights have been scheduled,” Bagchi further said.