Indians Recruited by Russian Army, Forced to Fight on Ukraine Border

Indians Recruited by Russian Army, Forced to Fight on Ukraine Border

In a startling revelation, it has come to light that over the past year, approximately 100 Indians have been recruited by the Russian Army at its Moscow recruitment center. An official from the Russian Ministry of Defense, speaking on condition of anonymity, disclosed to The Hindu that these recruits were enlisted as “army security helpers” after being thoroughly briefed about the associated risks.

The official clarified that no monetary transactions occurred during the recruitment process. However, the disclosed figure only pertains to the Moscow center, hinting that the actual count could be higher considering the existence of other recruitment centers across Russia.

Under the terms of their contract, which spans a minimum of a year, recruits are obligated to serve for at least six months without any leave or exit permissions. They were offered a monthly salary of ₹1.95 lakh along with ₹50,000 in additional benefits.

Despite undergoing psychometric tests and being informed about the potential dangers, recent reports have emerged indicating that at least three Indian recruits were coerced into combat alongside Russian forces on the Russia-Ukraine border in January. According to one of the affected individuals, promises made by an agent that they would not be deployed to the war zone were blatantly false.

Allegations of passports and documents being confiscated, coupled with unresponsive assistance from the Indian Embassy in Moscow, have further aggravated the plight of these individuals. Recent appeals for government intervention have intensified, with additional Indian nationals coming forward, including residents from Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka, seeking repatriation.

The matter initially raised concerns after All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi reached out to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on January 25, urging immediate action to ensure the safe return of these stranded individuals.

Highlighting the international scope of this issue, the Russian official revealed that recruits from various countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, had been enlisted by the Russian Army over the past year and a half.

This incident marks the first reported instance of Indians serving on the Russian side in a combat role amidst the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which commenced on February 24, 2022. While some Indians previously volunteered to join the International Legion combating Russian forces in Ukraine in 2022, this development underscores a concerning escalation of involvement on multiple fronts.