Students evacuated from Sumy via humanitarian corridor.

The evacuation of about 700 Indian students trapped in Ukraine’s besieged city of Sumy, pummelled by Russian shells, was completed on Tuesday 8 March with all the students reaching Poltava in Central Ukraine, 150km from Sumy, according to Indian officials.

They were brought to Poltava by bus, where they boarded trains to Western Ukraine from where they were airlifted out.

Indian officials said that, with this, the rescue mission of Indian students stuck in Ukraine is “almost complete”.

Indian Cabinet Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told media the Indian mission also rescued foreign students of other nationalities from Sumy. Around 2,046 international students were stranded in Sumy despite pleas by Turkey, India and China for a humanitarian corridor, according to a tweet by Ukrainian lawmaker Lesia Vasylenko on Tuesday telling students to “hold tight, #Ukraine army will be there soon”.

On Wednesday Vasylenko tweeted that 1,100 foreign students who made it out of Sumy were on their way to Lviv near the Polish border. “Evacuation mission a success. 35+20 buses took people out from that horrendous siege,” she noted, adding that it was the first humanitarian corridor where Russia did not break the ceasefire.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Monday said foreign students from 27 countries had been unable to leave besieged towns including Sumy, Chernihiv, Mariupol and Kherson – four cities where a humanitarian ceasefire was holding for the first time on Wednesday.

India had almost 20,000 students in Ukraine – the largest group of international students in the country – when the war with Russia broke out on 24 February.

In all, so far 17,400 people have been airlifted to India, including students, in a stepped-up Indian government operation after strident criticism from students stuck in Ukraine and their concerned families in India as the situation deteriorated during this week.

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