United Nations, March 1: India has said that efforts to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine have been hampered by "adverse conditions" at the borders, but it has also offered to help evacuate citizens of neighbouring and other developing countries stranded there.
India also said on Monday at a parallel Security Council and General Assembly meetings on Ukraine that it will be providing relief supplies to Ukraine that is suffering an invasion by Russia.
India's Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti made the announcements with near-identical statements at the two meetings.
At the Security Council meeting called by French President Emmanuel Macron on unfettered humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, Tirumurti said, "Taking into account the humanitarian requirements in Ukraine, my government has also decided to provide urgent relief supplies, including medicines. These are expected to be despatched tomorrow."
"We stand ready to help those from neighbours and developing countries who are also stranded in Ukraine and may seek assistance," he said.
The emergency meeting of the Assembly was called by the Council under the norms set by the 1950 "Uniting for Peace" resolution for situations where the Council is paralysed by differences among the veto-wielding permanent members after Russia vetoed a resolution condemning its invasion and calling it to withdraw its troops.
This was only the 11th emergency session and the first in 40 years to be called by the Security Council.
At both meetings Tirumurti expressed India's deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and called for an immediate end to the hostilities.
He said that India was worried about the safety of the thousands of its citizens stranded there whose evacuation was being hampered by the situation at the borders with Ukraine's neighbours.
"Our evacuation efforts have been adversely impacted by the developments on ground at the border crossings," Tirumurti said at the Council.
At the Assembly, he said, "The complex and uncertain situation at the border crossings has vastly impacted the uninterrupted and predictable movement of people. This important humanitarian necessity must be addressed immediately."
"The international community needs to ensure free and uninterrupted humanitarian access and smooth movement of all people keeping in view the humanitarian requirements in Ukraine," he said.
"Given that the safety of Indian nationals is of paramount importance to my government, senior ministers from the government of India are being deployed as Special Envoys to Ukraine's neighbouring countries," Tirumurti said at the Council.
Hardeep Puri is to go to Hungary, Jyotiraditya Scindia to Romania and Moldova, Kiren Rijiju to Solvakia, and V.K. Singh to Poland to help with the evacuations.
Tirumurti thanked those countries for helping with the evacuation.
In a remark directed at Moscow, which he did not name, Tirumurti said at the Assembly, "All member states of the United Nations are not only obliged to follow the UN Charter, but also respect international law and territorial integrity and sovereignty of states."
He said that India welcomed the direct talks between Ukraine and Russia that began at the Belarus border on Monday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had advocated for cessation of hostilities and return to diplomacy when he spoke with Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's President Voldymyr Zelentsky, he said.
"We reiterate our firm conviction that all differences in interests can only be bridged through honest, sincere and sustained dialogue," he said at the Assembly.
At the Council meeting, France's Permanent Representative Nicolas de Riviere called for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access and said that the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers is an absolute priority and there is no compromise on this.
He said that France and Mexico will propose a resolution to the Security Council calling for full respect for humanitarian law and unobstructed access for providing humanitarian assistance.
Under-Secretary-General Marting Griffiths, who is in charge of Humanitarian Affairs speaking from Geneva through a video link to the Council said, "We have all been watching the military offensive in Ukraine with a sense of disbelief and horror."
He said that the aerial and ground attacks have resulted in an alarming level of human casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure like bridges, sanitation and electricity.
"This effectively leaves civilians without the basics for day-to-day life," he added.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, also speaking through a video link, said that there were already 5,20,000 Ukrainian refugees in neighbouring countries and the numbers could swell to 4 million.
Russia's Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzia asserted that there was no need for international humanitarian aid for Ukraine because in the areas under Russian control the military was providing assistance and there were no "acute humanitarian issues".
He also claimed that Russia "does not have the aim of occupying Ukraine".
At the Assembly, speaker after speaker either outrightly condemned the Russian invasion or at least spoke up for the UN charter and preserving territorial integrity of nations.
Syria was the rare country that made an all-out defence of Russia.
Kenya is an elected member of the Council and its Permanent Representative Martin Kimani apologied at the Assembly for the Council's inaction and made the case for reforming the Council.