Thousands of Indian students in Russia said they are safe in the country even as they criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin for the war against Ukraine, which has now dragged on for nearly two weeks. They said there has been no major change in their life and they have been carrying out their daily tasks as usual.
On the other hand, Indian students studying in Ukraine have mostly come back home after facing a terrifying time as Russia invaded that country on February 24.
“The situation is not scary at all. I don’t know if the Russian Federation is hiding the actual truth from us, but compared to the situation in Ukraine, we are far safer,” Dharma Raj Swetha, a sixth-year general medicine student at Kazan State Medical University, told indianexpress.com.
As per the data released by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), there are nearly 16, 500 Indian students in Russia.
Some students said they do feel scared when they hear what is happening between Russia and Ukraine, but said they have been safe. “Well, looking at the news we feel a bit scared about the situation but actually the situation here is as normal as it was before. But nobody knows what the future holds,” Biswanath Sonal Yadav, a sixth-year student of Chuvash State University, told indianexpress.com.
However, Indian students said they are facing the issue of limited availability of cash. Many students complained that Indian bank cards are not working properly in Russia right now. “Some Indian cards are not working and the cash in ATMs are also limited, so we are trying to keep as much cash as we can in our hands,” Yadav confirmed.
Another student, who did not want to be named, said she and her friends had to pool money for a couple of days amid the shortage of cash. “I live with two other girls and the three of us pooled all our cash and used it accordingly because our cards were not working for almost three days and we had very limited cash in hand. This was when this fight had recently started. Now, we have individually managed to get as much cash in hand as possible and have been rationing it according to our necessary needs because the situation hasn’t gotten better till now,” she said.
‘Against the war’
Some Indian students in Russia also claimed that their local friends are against the war and do not support the Russian government’s decision to “attack another country”.
“I live in a rented flat and my landlords are this very sweet old Russian couple. And when I talked to them about this, they did not agree with the means that their government has adopted. I know some Russian young people, too, who study in my college and even they do not support a war,” said a student who lives in Tver.
“I have been following my normal routine, i.e., waking up early, going to college, doing my online freelance work, hanging out with friends and stuff. It is weird to think that my host country is at war with some other nation and people are getting injured there every day. But here in Russia, we are still sipping on our tea and getting our degree,” said a 24-year-old medical Indian student in Russia, who did not want to be named.
“It is unfair how our peers in Ukraine are having to flee for what Russia is doing to them, but we are still scrolling on Instagram and liking anti-war posts. This is not just what I think but also what locals here think, at least the ones I am in contact with. We are safe here, for the time being, but we are not happy anymore,” added the student.