External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will reply to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the situation in Ukraine on Wednesday.
The discussion was initiated by RSP member NK Premachandran and Congress MP Manish Tewari on Tuesday with members from several parties lauding the government for its efforts to evacuate Indian students from Ukraine and also expressing concern about their future studies.
The four union ministers – Hardeep Singh Puri , Kiren Rijiju, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Gen VK Singh – who went to countries neighbouring Ukriane as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoys during the evacuation effort also took part in the debate.
Congress members talked of the relevance of principles of non-alignment in the complex geopolitical situation created by Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Puri said Operation Ganga, which was undertaken to evacuate the stranded Indians from Ukraine, was one of the most well-coordinated and successful evacuation missions anywhere in the world.
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia said several countries had shut down their missions in Ukraine due to the conflict and “it is only India that had its mission functioning until the last Indian citizen was brought back”.
“When war began, we heard a lot of remarks – why were advisories not issued on time? India is one of those leading countries that first issued advisories. We issued advisories on 15th, 18th, 20th & 21st Feb – four advisories,” he said.
“PM Modi took command into his hands, as ‘pradhan sevak’, as protector of every Indian citizen. Meetings were held day and night. As Hardeep Puri said he was in Guwahati, I was in MP. We received a phone call at 11.30 pm calling us back to Delhi, to be sent to Romania & Moldova,” he added.
Mr Scindia said IndiGo operated 35 flights, Air India operated 14, Go First operated 6 flights, Air Asia operated three, Air India Express nine, SpiceJet nine and four C-17 Globemasters of IAF did sorties and evacuated Indian citizens safely.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Gen VK Singh said “the work that our country has done, no other country has done”.
He also talked about efforts made to evacuate Harjot Singh, an Indian student in Ukraine who had suffered bullet injuries.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said Indian embassy staff contributed to the evacuation work by risking their lives.
Participating in the debate, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah lauded the effort of the government in bringing back Indian students.
He said Russia “felt threatened” by the Ukraine’s moves to join NATO.
He recalled that Russia had signed an agreement with India that they had not signed with any other country.
“India was the only country that the Russians, our Ambassador then was D.P. Dhar, signed an agreement with – they signed it with no one – that war on India will be war on Russia. Never forget that,” he said.
Farooq Abdullah said India “is a neutral country and never took sides”.
“We are friends with America and we are friends with Russia. We are not enemies of any of these countries. That is one of the biggest things that the country has achieved from the Nehru’s time. Whatever one may say, it was because of Nehru’s foreign policy of keeping neutral with friends on all sides that we could move forward and take this country from out of poverty and bring it to the level of a developed country,” he added.
Congress member Shashi Tharoor said Russia-Ukraine crisis has geopolitical implications.
“In the short-term, there are some very, worrying consequences. I would say that the Ukraine war has exposed India’s strategic vulnerabilities in a tough neighbourhood, but nothing else. It would raise some fundamental questions for our security,” he said.
“We are seeing Russia and China getting more and more close to each other and if Russia is weakened as a result of this misadventure, which it almost certainly will be, its weakening can only give China the upper hand in that relationship. In these circumstances, the neutralisation of Russia, or even Russia coming along with China is a matter of great concern to us,” he added.
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