Ukraine’s envoy to India Igor Polikha on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to start a high-level dialogue with his country and Russia, reported The Hindu. His comments came after Russia announced a military operation in Ukraine early on Thursday.

At a press conference in Delhi, Polikha said India’s intervention could persuade Russia to not escalate the armed conflict further as Modi is “one of the most powerful, respected” world leaders., reported NDTV.

“You have a privileged, strategic relation with Russia,” Polikha said at the press briefing. “If Modi ji speaks to Putin, we are hopeful he will respond.”

Polikha said Ukraine was seeking the “strong voice” of India and described New Delhi as a “very influential global player”. He also pointed out that over 15,000 Indians were still in Ukraine.

“India should be much more actively engaged, given the privileged relation India has with Russia,” he said. “Not just for our safety, but of your own citizen’s safety too, we need intervention of India.”

Polikha noted that Putin has begun a “full-blown attack” and that must be stopped.

“It is a case of blatant aggression... the Russian statement is cynical,” he said. “They are not just attacking military installations but we have suffered civilian casualties.”

At a United Nations emergency meeting earlier on Thursday, India said that the emerging situation in eastern Ukraine is in danger of spiralling into a major crisis.

India’s Ambassador to the United Nations, TS Tirumurti, noted that at a UN Security Council meeting two days ago, India had called for de-escalation of tensions and had underlined the need for sustained and focused diplomacy.

“However, we note with regret, that the calls of the international community to give time to the recent initiatives undertaken by parties to defuse tensions were not heeded to,” he said.