New Delhi, India – Aprit Katiyar, an Indian student in Kharkiv, fell asleep at 4:15 am on Wednesday night watching news of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine glued to his television screen.
However, the 22-year-old actor’s sleep did not last long.
“I fell asleep for about 45 minutes when the sound of the bombing woke me up at 5 am,” Katiyar, from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, told Al Jazeera. “I was scared.”
Katiyar’s fear had come true.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on television earlier on Thursday that a “military operation” has been launched in Russia. Donbas He urged the Ukrainian army to lay down their weapons.
Putin claimed that the action came in response to threats from Ukraine, saying that Russia was not the target of invading the neighboring country.
Shortly after the start of the Russian bombardment, Ukraine closed its airspace to commercial flights.
Over the past week, many Indians have left Ukraine and returned to their homes, due to reports of a possible war between the two neighbors. Among them were Katiyar’s three students and roommates – but he too could not afford to fly right away and only got a ticket for March 2.
“I didn’t know everything would change so suddenly,” she said.
On Thursday evening, when a sophomore MBBS student spoke to Al Jazeera on the phone, he said he had taken shelter in a subway station. More than 500 people were also there, including some Indian students.
We took shelter in a metro station to be protected from bombardments,” he said.
The Air India plane sent for evacuation had to return to take off due to the airspace closure.
There are around 20,000 Indians stranded in Ukrainemost students.
India on Thursday issued three warnings to its citizens in Ukraine. In the latest news released in the evening, India’s Embassy in Kiev said it was aware of air sirens and bomb alerts in various places.
“In case you are faced with such a situation, Google Maps has a list of nearby bomb shelters, most of which are in underground subways,” the statement said.
Earlier in the day, the embassy asked its citizens to return and return to the cities where they lived if they were to go to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. He also said he was making “alternative arrangements” for the evacuation of Indian citizens. .
Akansha, 21, another Indian student stranded in Ukraine. Its flight was also scheduled for March 2.
“We were asked to stay underground in a subway station because of Russia bombing,” Akansha, who gave his name only, told Al Jazeera.
“I don’t know how long we will be stuck here. There is no help from anyone. We eat the biscuits and juice we brought with us to the metro station,” he said.
“Our families are so worried that they call us every few minutes.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet with Putin on Thursday, according to sources cited by Indian media. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s envoy to India, Igor Polikha, called for India’s intervention earlier on Thursday, calling India a “very influential global player” and saying his country wants a “strong voice of India”.
While many parents received frantic calls from their children studying in Ukraine, many Indian politicians urged the government to ensure that Indians stranded in the country are evacuated as soon as possible.
A team from the Indian embassy in Hungary was sent to the Zohanyi border post to provide assistance to facilitate the Indian exit from Ukraine.
“The team is coming [the] The Indian Embassy in Hungary was sent to the Zohanyi border post to provide assistance to facilitate and coordinate coordination. [the] Exodus of Indians from Ukraine. “The Mission is working with the Government of Hungary to provide all possible assistance,” the embassy said on Twitter, adding that the Indian government is “monitoring the situation closely and evacuation plans are being drawn up”.
Returning to Kharkiv, Kathiyar fears what might happen next.
“We don’t know what to do,” Kathiyar said. “We call on the Indian government to rescue us as soon as possible,” he said.