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Air India evacuation flight returns from Ukraine after airspace closed 

FILE PHOTO: A SpiceJet passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft takes off from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad, India May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

After the eastern European country blocked its airspace, an Air India flight meant to evacuate Indians stranded in crisis-hit Ukraine was forced to return to Delhi this morning. A special airplane carrying 182 Indians arrived in Delhi earlier.

The news: As the crisis with Russia grew swiftly over the previous week, nearly 20,000 Indians, many of them medical students in Ukraine, raised fears about their safety.

  • The Indian government’s first goal is to evacuate these people, however due to the shutdown of Ukrainian airspace, this is a difficult task.
  • Around 240 Indians were flown back on an Air India flight on Tuesday. The flight took off from Kyiv and arrived at Delhi late that evening.
  • The flight was the first of four planned, with the others scheduled for February 24 and 26. Between February 25 and March 6, four more were scheduled. 
  • It’s unclear whether these flights will be able to fly as planned.

What’s going on: Early this morning, explosions were reported in Mariupol, Ukraine’s eastern region, just after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a ‘military operation,’ raising fears of a full-fledged armed conflict in the region.

  • In a statement to the UN Security Council, India stated: “The situation is on the verge of becoming a serious crisis. It has the potential to jeopardise security if not handled appropriately.”
  • Following Putin’s declaration, US Vice President Joe Biden warned of “catastrophic loss of life.” Global leaders have joined the chorus of outrage, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz describing it as a “glaring violation” of international human rights.
  • Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, has also slammed Russia’s actions, saying Putin has chosen “a path of violence and ruin.”
  • Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the European Union’s top officials, have warned Russia that it will be held accountable for its actions.
  • Tensions have risen because Russia recognised two rebel districts in Ukraine as autonomous entities, Donetsk and Luhansk, in violation of a 2015 peace deal.
  • The Kremlin was able to transfer troops into Ukraine as a result of this. Sanctions were imposed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, as well as other countries.
  • Russia has denounced the sanctions as an attempt by western nations to intimidate it, and has stated that it has no plans to attack Ukraine.

Putin, on the other hand, has blamed the Ukrainian government for any potential violence during the invasion.

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