Indian killed in Russia's ruthless bombing of Kharkiv, with Modi government slammed for delayed Ukraine evacuation

Indian killed in Russia's ruthless bombing of Kharkiv, with Modi government slammed for delayed Ukraine evacuation
3 min read
01 March, 2022
The Indian embassy in Ukraine has only now asked all Indians to leave Kyiv, ahead of an apparent all-out assault by Russia on the capital.
Police personnel try to put out a burning effigy of Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar near his residence to protest his evacuation plan to help stranded Indian students in Ukraine in New Delhi on March 1, 2022 [Getty Images]

An Indian student was killed on Tuesday morning in Russia's bloody assault on Ukraine's second city of  Kharkiv, which has left dozens dead.

The death was confirmed by India's foreign ministry spokesperson on Twitter, amid criticism of the government for the delayed evacuation of citizens from Ukraine, which was invaded unprovoked by Russia on Thursday.

On Tuesday, six days into the brutal offensive which has killed thousands, Indian officials in Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Kyiv "urgently" and through "available trains or any other means available".

The announcement comes as a huge Russian convoy snakes its way toward the Ukrainian capital ready for, what analysts say, is an all-out assault on Kyiv, home to nearly 3 million people.

Around 18,000 Indians were living in Ukraine until Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Despite this, New Delhi only issued its first advisory asking Indian nationals to "consider leaving temporarily".

In contrast, countries such as the US asked their citizens to leave Ukraine and to avoid non-essential travel into the country weeks earlier.

India's regional rival China only began registering its citizens for evacuation on 24 February, just days before Russia's invasion.

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Niranjan Sahoo, an expert in governance and public policy at the Observer Research Foundation in India, blamed the delay on unreliable intelligence, in part due to New Delhi and Beijing's close ties to Moscow.

India's decision not to evacuate citizens earlier is likely due to its intelligence receiving inaccurate information from Russia about the planned assault, he added.

"India and China have military and other ties with Russia. Both countries are struggling with their evacuations, and something can be inferred from this - that the intelligence received from Moscow was probably not accurate or unreliable," Sahoo told The New Arab.

The New Arab has contacted the Indian embassies in Kyiv and London for comment.

Russia is one of India's main defence partners, and New Delhi has had to walk a diplomatic tightrope during this invasion.

It has tried to condemn the war and at the same time maintain ties with Russia.

India has sent four cabinet ministers to Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia to coordinate the evacuation effort. 

According to Sahoo, these efforts, while commendable, have come too late as Ukraine has already turned into a warzone and hundreds of thousands of people are attempting to cross borders.

Indians and other non-Europeans have also experienced racism at border crossings out of the country.

Indians trapped in Ukraine have also condemned the government for its slow response to the crisis.