Ukraine's Defense Ministry has come under fire for sharing an image, which depicted a morphed image of the Hindu deity Kali rising above blast smoke, on its Twitter handle Sunday.

The now-deleted tweet sparked outrage among Indians, with many social media users labeling the meme as disrespectful and "Hinduphobic."

The ministry shared two images in its post, one of which showed smoke emerging from a Russian fuel storage facility in the Crimean port of Sevastopol--reportedly taken down by a Ukrainian drone Saturday.

In another image, the caricature of goddess Kali was seen in an upskirt moment, similar to Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe's "flying skirt" photo from 1954, emerging from the fumes of smoke, prompting agitated netizens to deem the meme as offensive and "Hinduphobic." The tweet was captioned "Work of art," Hindustan Times reported.

"This is an assault on Hindu sentiments around the world," an Indian Twitter user wrote.

After facing vehement backlash from Indian users, Ukrainian authorities took the post down.

So far, no apology has come from Kyiv even as the tweet was deleted after public outcry.

This came as the world's largest democracy and the fifth-largest economy continues to maintain a neutral perspective in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. At a time when India resists a U.S. push to directly oppose Russia and calls for peace and cooperation on both sides, Ukraine continues to express its desire to establish stronger ties with New Delhi.

Ukraine has also openly conveyed its displeasure with India's neutral position on the war.

Last month, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova visited India, a first such visit by a senior government official from the war-hit European country since its invasion by Russia.

India "can play a bigger and greater role" and Ukraine would "welcome any effort that is directed at resolving the war," Dzhaparova said during her visit.

"Let us make Ukraine more visible in India, let us help Ukraine to tell its own story, let us also bring India closer to Ukraine," she added.

Through a letter by President Volodymyr Zelensky to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ukraine sought additional medicines and medical equipment from New Delhi.

"The Ukrainian Deputy FM also proposed that rebuilding infrastructure in Ukraine could be an opportunity for Indian companies," a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said. "Ukrainian request for additional humanitarian supply, including medicines and medical equipment was also shared by her."

Meanwhile, India's balancing act in the Russia-Ukraine war is helping New Delhi maintain strong ties with both Russia and the West.

However, Hinduphobia is not new to the United States. On March 27, Georgia became the first state in the United States to pass a resolution condemning Hinduphobia. The resolution condemned Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu bigotry, identifying Hinduism as one of the world's largest and oldest religions with over 1.2 billion adherents in over 100 countries. The resolution described Hinduphobia as "a set of antagonistic, destructive and derogatory attitudes and behaviors towards Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and Hindus that may manifest as prejudice, fear, or hatred."

The resolution claimed there have been "documented instances of hate crimes against Hindu Americans" in many parts of the country over the last few decades.

In February, the Seattle City Council became the first U.S. city to ban caste discrimination and the world's first city to pass such a law outside South Asia.

Several incidents have come to light over the past few years in different American states, contributing to the rising concerns over growing Hinduphobia in the country. A video of an irate man shouting anti-Hindu slurs in a California Taco Bell went viral in August 2022, and was seen as an attack on the religion.

According to the FBI's Hate Crime data explorer in 2020, as many as 11 hate crimes were recorded as "anti-Hindu bias" that year, compared to 110 anti-Muslim and 89 anti-Sikh incidents. The FBI 2018 Hate Crime Statistics report documented 12 reported incidents and 14 offenses against Hindus in the U.S.

Ukraine's President Zelenskiy