Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia launched a military offensive against Ukraine, and called for an immediate cessation of violence while also stressing that India attaches the highest priority to the safe exit and return of its citizens from Ukraine.

Modi also asserted that differences between Russia and NATO can only be resolved through "honest and sincere" dialogue.

During their telephonic conversation, Prime Minister Modi also sensitised the Russian President about India's concerns regarding the safety of the Indian citizens in Ukraine, especially students, and conveyed that India attaches the highest priority to their safe exit and return, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) here said.

A readout of the Modi-Putin talk issued by the Russian side said Modi asked for assistance in ensuring the security of Indian citizens currently in Ukraine to which President Putin said that the "necessary instructions" would be given.

The PMO here said President Putin briefed Prime Minister Modi about the recent developments regarding Ukraine, it said.

The prime minister reiterated his long-standing conviction that the differences between Russia and the NATO group can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue, the PMO said.

Prime Minister Modi appealed for an immediate cessation of violence, and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue, it said.

The leaders agreed that their officials and diplomatic teams would continue to maintain regular contacts on issues of topical interest, the PMO said.

The Russian readout of the Modi-Putin talk said that during the conversation, Putin outlined the fundamental assessments of "Kiev's aggressive actions" against the civilian population of Donbass, as well as the many years of "destructive policy" aimed at breaking the Minsk agreements.

"In these circumstances, and also in connection with the unacceptable for Russia military development of the United States and its NATO allies on the territory of Ukraine, it was decided to launch a special military operation," the Russian statement said.

The Indian Prime Minister thanked for the clarification and asked for assistance in ensuring the security of Indian citizens currently in Ukraine, it said.

President Putin said that the necessary instructions would be given, it added.

Some issues of bilateral cooperation were touched upon in the context of the Russian-Indian summit held in December 2021, the statement said.

India has been pressing for de-escalation of tensions taking into account the legitimate security interests of all countries.

The situation in Ukraine deteriorated after Putin announced the military operation against the country.

The Modi-Putin telephonic talk came hours after Ukraine sought India's support in defusing the crisis following the Russian attack on the country and said it was "deeply dissatisfied" with New Delhi's position on the deteriorating situation.

Ambassador of Ukraine to India Igor Polikha said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among a very few global leaders to whom President Putin listens to and New Delhi can leverage its proximity with Moscow to control the situation.