Indian IM in Ukraine manages to flee Kyiv and reach border in packed train

Anwesh had been in Ukraine for ten years - playing chess while also studying and then practicing medicine. Anwesh Upadhyaya

Indian International Master Anwesh Upadhyaya, who was stranded in Ukraine, has managed to flee Kyiv and arrived in Lviv, around 70 kilometers from the Polish border early on Tuesday.

"Trains are chaotic and tough to board," Anwesh told ESPN, "Just so many people trying to get to Lviv somehow. It's just sad. Kyiv to Lviv by train usually takes 5-6 hours, yesterday [Monday] it took 14 hours. You can't get out at the station either because people are practically living in the railway station for days. I'm still planning how to exit the country and which border route to take. All borders are crammed. But let's face it, approximately 1 million people are trying to escape via road borders. They're bound to be crammed."

Reports on Tuesday suggested that Russian forces have closed in on all sides of the Ukrainian capital, with satellite images showing a 64-kilometer long Russian armoured convoy prepping for a possible full-scale assault.

The chess player had travelled to Ukraine to study medicine and take part in tournaments in 2012 and was working as a resident doctor apprenticing in gastroenterology in city hospital No 8.

Back home in Bhubaneshwar, Anwesh's parents Netaji and Jayshree are somewhat relieved. Sleep and food turned into primary casualties in the Upadhyaya household since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. The waking hours are spent watching news and waiting for their son's phone call.

"We don't know how we lived through the past few days," Jayshree told ESPN, "When Anwesh told us this morning that he's in a safe place in Lviv, we felt we could finally breathe."

"The train he took out of Kyiv was completely full and he stood throughout the journey. It's a small price to pay for safety. The situation is getting dire in Kyiv. Not just Anwesh, there are so many other kids we know who are in different parts of Ukraine. It's been a terrible few days for us. Until all of them are back, we can't be at peace," she said.

In light of the worsening ground situation, the Indian embassy on Tuesday morning issued an advisory asking all Indian nationals to leave Kyiv immediately. Later on Tuesday the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that one Indian student had been killed in the shelling in Kharkhiv.

Four Indian union ministers have been dispatched to Ukraine's neighbouring countries to expedite the evacuation mission of Indians from Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Poland and Slovakia. Poland has waived off visas for Indian nationals crossing over from Ukraine and Union minister for roads and transportation, Gen. VK Singh, has been deputed to oversee the safe rescue of Indians from the country. So far over 2000 Indian nationals have been evacuated from Ukraine while thousands continue to remain stranded. Efforts are on to facilitate their exit through various border transit points to neighbouring countries.