Astana: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of State Council meeting in Astana on Wednesday.

Jaishankar, in his meeting with Lavrov, raised "strong concern about Indian nationals" currently in the war zone in Russia.

"Good to meet Russian FM Sergey Lavrov in Astana today. Wide-ranging conversation on our bilateral partnership and contemporary issues. Noted the progress in many areas since our last meeting in December 2023," Jaishankar wrote in a post on X.

"Raised our strong concern on Indian nationals who are currently in the war zone. Pressed for their safe and expeditious return," he underlined.

Both the leaders also discussed the "global strategic landscape" and exchanged assessments and views.

It is pertinent to note that the Ministry of External Affairs in June said two Indian nationals who had been recruited by the Russian Army were killed in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

As per the release, MEA has taken up the matter of early release and return of all Indian nationals who are with the Russian Army.

"The Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy in Moscow have strongly taken up the matter with the Russian Ambassador in New Delhi and with Russian authorities in Moscow, respectively, for early release and return of all Indian nationals who are with the Russian Army," the MEA had said.

The MEA, in its release, has urged Indian nationals to exercise caution while seeking employment opportunities in Russia.

In March this year, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said that India is constantly in touch with Russian authorities to have Indian nationals released and discharged from the Russian army as early as possible.

On being asked for an update on Indians who were duped by agents and sent to Russia to join the military, Randhir Jaiswal had said, "Regarding Russia, as I told you earlier also, we are constantly in touch with Russian authorities. We have taken it up strongly for them to have our nationals released and discharged as early as possible."

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