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Russia to discharge and facilitate return of Indians coerced into military service

According to a Russian Ministry of Defense official, the Russian Army has recruited over 100 Indians at its Moscow recruiting office in the last year.

In the course of the current conflict with Ukraine, Russia has committed to release and facilitate the safe return of all Indian nationals who had enlisted in the Russian military. The decision was made after Prime Minister Modi brought up the matter on Monday night at a private dinner hosted by President Putin.

PM Modi‘s visit to Moscow is extremely significant because it is the first time the two leaders have met bilaterally in almost three years. In addition, Modi is making his first trip abroad since winning a remarkable third term in June.

Indian Nationals Enlisted in Russian Military

PM Modi brought up the subject of Indian nationals serving in the Russian military during his conversation with President Putin. In retaliation, It has promised to release all Indian nationals serving in their armed forces and facilitate their return to their home country. “Russia has agreed to discharge all Indian nationals working in its army following discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin during Modi’s visit to Moscow,” news agency ANI said, citing unidentified sources.

Recruitment Scams and Trafficking Networks

During his discussions with President Putin, Prime Minister Modi made the problem of Indian nationals being duped and enlisted to fight for the conflict in Ukraine a key concern. The Indian administration brought up this problem in the clearest possible terms. At least two Indian nationals have lost their lives while fighting for Russia, and a large number of those who are still trapped in the conflict area claim they were tricked into going into battle.

An earlier version of this year’s viral video included a group of men from Punjab and Haryana, dressed in army uniforms, alleging they were duped into fighting in Ukraine and begging for assistance to get back home. A human trafficking network that encouraged gullible young men with the prospect of well-paying jobs in Russia through social media and agents has also been dismantled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India.

Military
Image Source: Rediff.com

13 locations throughout India were searched by the CBI, including Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Ambala, Chandigarh, Madurai, and Chennai. At least 35 cases were found by the CBI where victims were allegedly sent overseas by the suspected traffickers. Acting as an “organized network,” the traffickers were enticing Indian citizens via YouTube and other social media platforms, as well as through local contacts and agents.

Additionally, the operatives were charged with seizing the Indian immigrants’ passports upon their arrival in Russia, so entangling them even more in the war area. Indian people should “exercise caution while seeking employment opportunities in Russia,” the Ministry of External Affairs has previously said, pointing out the dangers of being duped and recruited into the continuing conflict.

The creator of the “Baba Vlogs” YouTube channel, Faisal Khan, was a major player in the recruitment scam that persuaded Indian citizens to fight for Russia in the conflict in Ukraine. Through his YouTube channel, Khan began advertising positions in the Russian army in July 2023, offering competitive pay and permanent residence in Russia.

After viewing Khan’s films on the Baba Vlogs channel, nearly two dozen people, among them Mohammed Afsan from Hyderabad, were deported. Moinuddin Chippa and Christina, two Russian-based agents were also involved in the trafficking of young Indian people to Russia.

Under the pretext of a “helper” position, Afsan came to Moscow in December 2023. However, he was compelled to enlist in the Russian military and sent to the border with Ukraine. Afsan was serving on the Russian-Ukrainian border when he was tragically shot and killed in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Although the precise number of Indians serving in the Russian Army is unknown, estimates vary from around 30 to 100. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, 30 to 40 Indians may be serving in the Russian army at the moment.

According to a Russian Ministry of Defense official, the Russian Army has recruited over 100 Indians at its Moscow recruiting office in the last year. The Russian military hired them, mostly to work as support personnel like cooks and attendants. However, because military troops move about a lot and there is inadequate contact, it has been challenging to confirm the precise number.

Many of these Indian nationals fell for the scams of recruiting agencies who claimed to have rich work prospects in Russia and were situated in Indian cities as well as Dubai. Rather, they were forced to enlist in the Russian army and engage in combat with Ukraine.

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