By Manoj Kumar
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday offered to help in peace efforts in the Ukraine crisis, during a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Modi expressed his “deep anguish about the loss of life and property due to the ongoing conflict” while reiterating his call for an immediate cessation of violence and a return to dialogue, a government statement said.
Modi said India was willing “to contribute in any way towards peace efforts”, while Zelenskiy briefed him about the conflict situation in Ukraine, the statement said.
On Friday, India along with China and United Arab Emirates abstained from voting for a U.N. Security Council resolution to deplore Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, drawing criticism in the West but praise from Moscow with which it has long standing defence ties.
The Russian Embassy in New Delhi, in a message on Twitter, said it appreciated India’s “independent and balanced” position in the vote. In the past, India depended on Russia’s support and its veto power in the U.N. security council in its dispute over Kashmir with its longtime rival Pakistan.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory.
Modi also raised the issue of the safety of Indian citizens, particularly students, stuck in Ukraine, and asked for help to evacuate them.
India has sent teams to Poland, Hungary and Romania to evacuate Indian citizens, who have been asked to reach countries neighbouring Ukraine. An Indian flight carrying about 200 students evacuated from Ukraine via Romania landed in Mumbai on Friday evening.
(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Alison Williams)