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Indian Air Force (IAF) is operating three more flights on Thursday to various locations in the neighbourhood of Ukraine to evacuate Indian citizens, said Indian Air Force spokesperson.

The IAF C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft have been extensively used for the evacuation of stranded citizens of India in the recent past, most notably from Afghanistan.

These aeroplanes have also been utilised to transport oxygen containers in large quantities during the COVID-19 outbreak last year.

Earlier on Thursday, the Fourth Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft arrived at Hindon airbase near Delhi along with rescued Indian nationals from Ukraine, who were received by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had issued orders to the Air Force to pitch in the rescue operations to augment the level of Operation Ganga.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said nine flights took off on Thursday from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Poland.

"Nine flights have taken off today from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Poland, including IAF aircraft. 6 flights more are expected to depart shortly. Altogether, will bring back more than 3,000 Indian nationals," tweeted Jaishankar.

A total of 17,000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine since the advisories were issued and flights under Operation Ganga have been increased to facilitate the evacuation of remaining students stranded in Ukraine.

The students who left Ukraine also included some Indians who had not registered with the Embassy of India in Kyiv previously.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired a high-level meeting on the issue. The meeting was attended by Union Ministers S Jaishankar, Piyush Goyal, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and other officials.

For the past few days, the Prime Minister has been chairing crucial meetings on the issue.Russian forces launched military operations in Ukraine on February 24, three days after Moscow recognized Ukraine's breakaway regions - Donetsk and Luhansk - as independent entities.

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