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PTI

India on Sunday asked the family members of its embassy staff in Ukraine to return home and advised its citizens to leave that country temporarily in view of "high levels" of tensions and uncertainties there.

Official sources said families of Indian Embassy officials in Ukraine have been asked to move back to India.

Amid continuing tensions between the NATO countries and Russia over the Ukraine crisis, the Indian embassy in Kyiv issued a fresh advisory in which it also asked all the Indian students to leave that country temporarily.

"In view of the continued high levels of tensions and uncertainties with respect to the situation in Ukraine, all Indian nationals whose stay is not deemed essential and all Indian students are advised to leave Ukraine temporarily," the embassy said.

It said available commercial flights and charter flights may be availed for travel, for "orderly and timely departure" from Ukraine.

"Indian students are advised to also get in touch with respective student contractors for updates on charter flights, and also continue to follow Embassy Facebook, website and Twitter for any update," the embassy said.

According to an official document in 2020, Ukraine had a small but vibrant Indian community and there were about 18,000 Indian students studying in that country.

In the midst of the escalating tension, Russia and Belarus have extended military drills near the border with Ukraine. The exercise was scheduled to end on Sunday.

Several Western countries have warned that Russia was poised to attack Ukraine soon.

The US and its Western allies have been severely critical of Russia over its build-up of forces near the Ukraine border.

The US has already sent extra troops to Europe to support its allies in the backdrop of fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has positioned around 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, besides sending warships into the Black Sea for naval exercises, triggering concerns among the NATO countries about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has been demanding a guarantee that Ukraine should never be allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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