Japan on Thursday announced it had changed its plans regarding the dispatch of Air Self-Defense Force aircraft to transport humanitarian aid to Ukraine's neighboring nations after India, which has close ties with Russia, refused to authorize the entry of such planes to pick up supplies.
The ASDF aircraft will now only pick up relief items such as blankets stockpiled by a U.N. agency in the United Arab Emirates and transport them to Poland and Romania, both of which have welcomed refugees from Ukraine.
The airlift, which comes at the request of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, will last from May through June, according to the plan approved by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet.
"We will continue to provide support for and stand by the people of Ukraine and its neighboring nations, in collaboration with the international community," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference.
India's decision last week to not allow the planes to land forced the Japanese government to revise its original plan and delayed Cabinet approval.
Traditionally maintaining close military ties with Russia and highly dependent on energy supplies from the country, India has refrained from condemning Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24.
New Delhi has, however, provided aid supplies including medicine and medical equipment for Ukraine through Poland and Romania since March following a request from the Ukrainian government, according to media reports.
India had agreed at a working level to allow the transport aircraft to land, but it withdrew consent at the last minute, a lawmaker of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party said earlier.
A spokesman for the Indian External Affairs Ministry told a press conference that India had not given permission for the ASDF aircraft to land in Mumbai, but had agreed with Japan's use of commercial aircraft to collect the humanitarian supplies.
Japan's ASDF planes have already delivered bulletproof vests and helmets to Ukraine via Poland.