China organises charter flights to evacuate nationals in Ukraine

China’s embassy in Ukraine has announced the organisation of charter flights to evacuate those Chinese nationals who wish to leave the country under attack from Russia, even as Beijing says it understands Moscow’s “reasonable” security concerns.

Beijing launched a process to collect the information of those wanting to leave, saying that the registration window would close on Sunday. No timetable was given for when the flights would begin.

China has said about 6,000 of its citizens are in Ukraine.

“At present, the situation in Ukraine has deteriorated rapidly, and our citizens and Chinese enterprises in Ukraine face high risk to their security,” the embassy said in a statement.

“We have started registration to prepare for transfer arrangements by chartered flights… The flight time will be confirmed according to the safety situation of the flights, and will be notified in advance.”

Russian forces have launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, unleashing airstrikes and sending its troops deep into the country, after weeks of diplomatic efforts failed to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching the military operation.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that Beijing “has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries” but understood “Russia’s reasonable concerns on security issues”.

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