Russia on Tuesday declared a cease-fire to conduct a ‘humanitarian operation’ starting 12.30 pm in Indian time. The Russian embassy in India released a list of ‘humanitarian corridors’ that it was ready to provide.
The list includes corridor from Sumy city in northeast Ukraine, where approximately 600 Indian students are stranded. They were not able to leave despite repeated efforts.
Raising the issue at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Ukraine yesterday, India’s permanent representative to the UN, T S Tirumurti said that India was deeply concerned that despite repeated urgings to both Russia and Ukraine, a safe corridor for Indian students stranded in Sumy did not materialize.
The Russian embassy in India tweeted, “In order to conduct a humanitarian operation from 12.30 IST on March 8, 2022, Russia declares cease-fire and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors.”
Russia announced humanitarian corridors from Sumy by two routes to Poltava and to the territory of the Russian Federation to Belgorod. In agreement with the Ukrainian side, from there Indian nationals will be able to head to selected destinations or temporary accommodations in the southern directions by air, rail or road transport.
Notably, the UN regards humanitarian corridors as one of the key forms of temporary pause of armed conflict. Both Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the failure in setting up corridors. Russia said that Ukrainian forces did not allow people to leave Mariupol city on Saturday while Ukraine blamed the delay on Russian forces violating the already agreed ceasefire.
A spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had earlier said that Russia’s move to set up the corridors was completely immoral and alleged that Russia was trying to use people’s sufferings to create a television picture.
Russia again blamed Ukraine for the failure of setting up corridors today and said that the situation was rapidly deteriorating and “acquired the character of a humanitarian catastrophe”.
The Russian embassy in India said on Facebook, “Due to the failure and inability of the Ukrainian side to ensure the functioning of humanitarian corridors, the situation in a large number of settlements on almost the entire territory of Ukraine, primarily in such cities as Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy, Kharkov and Mariupol, is rapidly deteriorating and has acquired the character of a humanitarian catastrophe.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to Presidents of both Russia and Ukraine on Monday and urged for an immediate ceasefire and for both parties to return to dialogue and diplomacy. He further thanked both sides for helping in the evacuation of Indian nationals from the conflict ridden region.
Amid heavy firing and shelling, hundreds of Indian nationals are stranded in Sumy with disturbing visuals emerging highlighting their plight.
India has been trying to evacuate its citizens from the war-torn country under the Operation Ganga. Even then, it proved particularly challenging to evacuate those stuck in the eastern part of the country including Sumy.