Asian governments seek evacuation of nationals from Ukraine

Heavy traffic on a road heading out of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Feb 24, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

Asian nations' governments are working to bring their citizens in Ukraine to safety, as Russian forces pushed deeper into Ukraine and Ukrainian units defending positions despite being outnumbered.

Airspace in Ukraine, Moldova, parts of Belarus and in southern Russia near the Ukraine border was closed when the invasion began on Thursday, causing  some evacuation flights to be  suspended.

India is focusing on evacuating its 16,000 nationals still stuck in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said late on Thursday (Feb 24). 

The cost of evacuation flights will be completely borne by the Indian government, government sources said.

Air India is sending two flights on Saturday to airlift  Indian citizens from Ukraine via Bucharest.

Teams of Indian foreign ministry officials have been sent to Ukraine's land borders with Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Romania to provide assistance to any fleeing Indian nationals, Mr Shringla told a press briefing.

"The prime minister has conveyed... that the topmost priority of the government is the safety and security of Indian nationals, including Indian students, and their evacuation from Ukraine," Mr Shringla said, adding that around 4,000 Indians have already been evacuated since the government set up repatriation efforts a month ago.

China’s embassy in Ukraine on Friday (Feb 25) said Chinese nationals could register 
for chartered flights
to leave the eastern European country.

In a notice posted on the embassy’s official WeChat account, China said travelling on the charter flights is up to the individual and registrations will be open until Feb 27.

There are about 6,000 Chinese nationals in Ukraine, mainly in Kiev, Lvov, Kharkov, Odessa and Sumy.

Thailand has announced plans to evacuate 250 Thais living in Ukraine, the Nation reported.

The Thai Embassy in Poland has plans to arrange transport for Thais in Ukraine to travel to Warsaw in Poland, about 400km from Lviv. Lviv is about 540km west of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

If a charter flight cannot be arranged in Warsaw, the government will send an aircraft from Thailand to repatriate them, Mr Tanee Sangrat, director-general of Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs's Department of Information, said.

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The Indonesian Embassy in Kyiv is also seeking to ensure the safety of 138 citizens who reside in Ukraine, the Jakarta Post reported.

Mr Judha Nugraha, the Foreign Ministry's citizen protection director, said that all Indonesians in Ukraine had been ordered to gather at the embassy in Kyiv, and that Jakarta has evacuation plans involving coordination from representative offices in Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Russia.

The Philippines on Thursday assured Filipinos in Ukraine that they will receive help if they need to be moved to safer areas or repatriated to the Philippines.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, in a post on Twitter, said Poland had agreed to allow Filipinos leaving Ukraine to enter Poland without visas, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on Friday (Feb 25).

There are about 350 Filipinos living in Ukraine, most of them in Kyiv.

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