The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday claimed that at least 18,000 Indians have left Ukraine since the embassy’s first advisory was issued, PTI reported. The Indian embassy in Ukraine first issued an advisory on February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Since then, it has issued multiple advisories, including two urgent ones on Wednesday, telling students to immediately leave the war-torn eastern city of Kharkiv.

The Ministry of External Affairs claimed that 1,000 Indians in Kharkiv left for the suburb of Pisochyn, located nearly 12 km from the city, after Wednesday’s advisory.

On Thursday evening, the defence ministry issued a detailed advisory with safety guidelines for Indians still stranded in Kharkiv. It warned them of dangerous situations to be expected.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a press briefing on Thursday that in the past 24 hours, 15 flights landed in India with more than 3,000 nationals.

According to Bagchi, 30 flights were operated bringing back 6,400 citizens under “Operation Ganga”, which was launched to evacuate stranded Indians in Ukraine.

Bagchi added that in the next 24 hours, 18 flights have been scheduled from different cities in the countries neighbouring Ukraine. Three of the aircrafts deployed are C-17 Indian Air Force flights.

The foreign ministry spokesperson also said that two flights will be operated from the Romanian border city of Suceava, which would save students the trouble of reaching that country’s capital Bucharest.

The ministry, meanwhile, denied claims that Russia had “stopped the war the for six hours” so that the Indian students could leave Kharkiv, reported The Hindu.

The ministry said that there was “no coordination” on missile strikes by Russia, but that Indians were told to leave Kharkiv based on inputs from Moscow.

Russia offers buses

Meanwhile, Russia has said it can send 130 buses to help with evacuation of Indian students from the war-torn eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and the northeastern city of Sumy. Both cities are close to Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday and highlighted the safe evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine.

Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defence Control Center, said the buses can leave for the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Sumy from two checkpoints in Russia’s Belgorod region, PTI quoted the state-owned news agency TASS as saying.

The Russian military officer said foreign citizens rescued would be sent to their homelands from Belgorod city.