NEW DELHI: The seventh ‘Operation Ganga’ flight with 182 Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine reached Mumbai from Bucharest on Tuesday morning. The government has deputed four Union ministers -Hardeep Singh Puri, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kiran Rijiju and Gen (Retd) VK Singh -to facilitate departure of Indians through Romania, Moldova, Hungry, Slovakia and Poland.
Meanwhile, Russian is pressing ahead with military assault on Ukraine. Here are the latest developments:
At UN, India calls for immediate cessation of violence
The UN’s two major bodies – the 193-nation General Assembly and the more powerful 15-member Security Council – were holding separate meetings Monday to discuss the war.
The council meeting opened with the news that the United States was kicking out 12 Russian UN diplomats whom Washington accuses of spying.
India has said that it was deeply concerned over the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and reiterated its call for immediate cessation of violence and end to hostilities, saying all differences can only be bridged through honest, sincere and sustained dialogue.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told a rare emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Ukraine convened on Monday that New Delhi is doing whatever it can to undertake immediate and urgent evacuation efforts of Indian nationals still stranded in Ukraine.
“India is deeply concerned that the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate. We reiterate our call for immediate cessation of violence and end to hostilities,” Tirumurti said.
“My government firmly believes that there is no other choice but to return to the path of diplomacy,” he said.
64-Km-long Russian army convoy spotted north of Kyiv
It seems Moscow is preparing to launch a new military push imminently. A huge Russian military convoy stretching some 40 miles was spotted by a US satellite imaging company just north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which has already repulsed several assaults.
Satellite photos provided by Maxar, a US company, showed that the convoy — which had been massing since Sunday — had mushroomed to more than 40 miles of military vehicles.
It said the column covered the entire stretch of road from near Antonov airport, some 18 miles from the capital, to the town of Prybirsk – a distance of approximately 40 miles.
Maxar said that “along parts of the route, some vehicles are spaced fairly far apart while in other sections military equipment and units are traveling two or three vehicles abreast on the road.”
“A number of homes and buildings are seen burning north and northwest of Ivankiv, near the roads where the convoy is traveling,” it added.
Maxar said its satellites had also captured images of “additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units” in southern Belarus, less than 20 miles north of the border with Ukraine.
What’s happening on the ground?
Kyiv’s outgunned but determined troops slowed Russia’s advance and held onto the capital and other key cities _ at least for the time being.
US officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts. Russia still lacked control of Ukrainian airspace.
As talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations wrapped up near the Belarusian border, several blasts could be heard in Kyiv itself.
Russian troops have been advancing slowly on the capital city of nearly 3 million people.
Russia-Ukraine talks
Ukrainian and Russian delegations met Monday on Ukraine’s border with Belarus. The meeting ended with no immediate reports of agreements, but Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said further talks could take place “in the near future.”
Before the meeting, Zelenskyy’s office said Ukraine would demand an immediate cease-fire.
While Ukraine sent its defense minister and other top officials, the Russian delegation was led by Putin‘s cultural adviser _ Vladimir Medinsky _ an unlikely envoy for ending the war and a sign of how Moscow viewed the talks.
Medinsky said the sides “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” He also said the talks would continue in the coming days on the Polish-Belarusian border.
Western officials believe Putin wants to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a compliant regime, reviving Moscow’s Cold War-era influence. His comments have raised fears that the invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war, whether by design or mistake.
On Monday afternoon, Macron spoke by phone with Putin for 90 minutes, according to the French presidency. It said Putin expressed his “will to commit” to stopping all strikes against civilians and residential areas and to preserving civilian facilities. Macron asked him to end the military offensive in Ukraine and reaffirmed the need for an “immediate cease-fire.”
How are ordinary Ukrainians coping?
Long lines formed outside Kyiv supermarkets Monday as residents were allowed out of bomb shelters and homes for the first time since a curfew was imposed Saturday. Some found food, but others didn’t.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have sought safety at night in Kyiv’s subway system and other makeshift shelters around the country, where parents try to calm their children’s fears. Despite the shortages, lack of privacy and other challenges, Ukrainians were trying to put on a brave face.
“It’s much harder for soldiers at the front. It’s embarrassing to complain about the icy floor, drafts and terrible toilets,” said 74-year-old Irina, who sought safety in a Kyiv underground station and would not give her last name. Her grandson Anton is among those fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities said at least seven people were killed and dozens were injured in fighting in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, where social media videos showed apartment buildings being shelled. They warned that the actual figures could be much higher.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said her office had confirmed that 102 civilians, including seven children, have been killed in the Russian invasion and 304 others wounded since Thursday, though she cautioned the tally was likely a vast undercount.
(With inputs from agencies)


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