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Explained | How were Indians duped into fighting for Russia in the Ukraine war?

The Government of India estimates between 30 and 40 Indian citizens are currently serving in the Russian army. At least four Indians - including one from Modi's home state of Gujarat - have been killed in the conflict. So, how did they end up there?
Last Updated : 09 July 2024, 16:10 IST

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New Delhi: India said on Tuesday that Moscow has agreed to begin discharging Indian citizens who were "misled" into serving in the Russian army following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin.

Here is a look at the problem and how the countries thrashed out a solution:

How were Indian misled into joining Russia's army?

A human trafficking network extending from New Delhi in the north to the southern state of Tamil Nadu used social media platforms and local agents to lure people to Russia by offering them lucrative jobs or admission to what the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) called "dubious private universities".

Once they reached Russia, however, the victims' passports were taken and they were trained in combat roles before being deployed at the front.

Police have arrested at least four people involved in the racket.

How many people were duped?

The government estimates between 30 and 40 Indian citizens are currently serving in the Russian army.

At least four Indians - including one from Modi's home state of Gujarat - have been killed in the conflict.

How did India tackle the problem?

India has said that every case brought to its attention is being "strongly taken up" with Russia to ensure the "early discharge" of stranded people, and 10 Indians have been brought back as part of this effort so far.

Russia has not commented on the issue and has not responded to Reuters' requests for comment.

Have other countries made similar allegations?

Nepal has said that several of its youth were similarly illegally recruited, estimating the number to be as high as 200, and stopped issuing permits for work in Russia and Ukraine in January.

Sri Lanka also said that several of its war veterans were lured to the Russia-Ukraine war with false promises, at least 37 of whom have been wounded and a "significant number" killed.

While Nepal has an agreement with India and Britain that allows its citizens to serve in their armies, Sri Lankans are not permitted to fight in armies of foreign nations.

What kind of a relationship do India and Russia share?

India has had a close relationship with Russia since the days of the Soviet Union and has emerged as the biggest buyer of its oil after 2022, when Europe banned Russian oil imports.

India has also refused to condemn the Ukraine war, instead calling for peace through dialogue and diplomacy.

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Published 09 July 2024, 16:10 IST

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