Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama met behind closed-door with the Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to Nigeria, Alexei Shebarshin and Kirdoda Valerii respectively over a possible evacuation of Nigerians from both countries.
The minister shortly after the meeting said the Nigerian government is concerned about the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine as a lot of its citizens are in harms way.
The Russian troops on Thursday launched an attack on Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin declared “special military operation.” The Russians have since been attacking military infrastructure with explosions reported at airfields, military headquarters and military warehouses in major cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, among others.
The Russian troops, The New Diplomat earlier reported Friday, have gone for the jugular as they’re now on their way to capital Kyiv in an attempt to take the capital.
Following the development, there have been rising tension and panic as scores of residents in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine have been fleeing from the city.
In a bid to secure the safety of Nigerians in Ukraine, Onyeama met with the two Ambassadors to Nigeria to discuss the possibility of evacuating citizens willing to leave the country, even though many are arguing that time has ran out on such efforts.
The minister added that he proposed the possibility of evacuating Nigerians through road travel as the Ukrainian government had shut down its airspace.
He, however, disclosed the Ukrainian envoy hinted that evacuation of Nigerians was not feasible but assured the safety of the citizens in the country.
The Ukrainian envoy noted that the government has given all the residents and civilians, specific instructions about how to stay safe and the measures to take.
“This is really the position of the government. And also, that we have 5600 Nigerians in Ukraine and we are very concerned about what we are hearing and what we are seeing regarding missiles and bombs about the safety of our Nigerian citizens there, that we would like to be able to evacuate them,” Onyeama said.
He continued, “This would be communicated to his headquarters and that obviously, they consider Nigeria a friendly country and Nigerians; and that they would do nothing to harm Nigerians and assured me that their action is targeted at military installations and that they are not about to start attacking civilian areas and so forth.
“And we certainly want the cooperation of the Government of Ukraine to do whatever is possible to ensure their safety and security and to also seek advice as to how the evacuation can be facilitated,” Onyeama further said.
On his part, the Ukrainian envoy expressed gratitude to the Government and people of Nigeria for their support, assuring the government will secure the lives and properties of everyone residing in the country despite the ongoing crisis.
“Right now, we are in a very difficult situation, but we are fighting against the aggression and we believe that we will all win,” the Ukrainian envoy said.
“Ukrainian Government does not differentiate between people on the basis of their nationality and that is the best effort to protect everybody.
“Currently, the evacuation of Nigerian students is not possible because it is not safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine. As soon as it is safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine, we will join the Embassy of Nigeria in Ukraine and jointly with the Nigerian Government, we will arrange for the evacuation of Nigerian Students,” he added.