March 11, 2024

Russia Tricks Foreigners into Fighting in Ukraine, Again


Russia Tricks Foreigners into Fighting in Ukraine, Again
Man waving an Indian flag. Sharmaprakharr, Wikimedia Commons.

The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recently stated that it had uncovered a human trafficking network that was tricking young Indian men into coming to Russia, only to be forced to fight in Ukraine. Authorities confirmed 35 men were victims of the scheme.

The CBI found travel agencies offering lucrative jobs, visa extensions, and admission into unknown private universities in Russia. Authorities raided 15 locations in 7 cities across India and confiscated 5 million rupees ($60,000) in cash, documents, and electronic devices. These organizations' main targets were young Indian men, especially students, whom were contacted via social media. Once the men arrived in Russia, their passports were confiscated. Then they were sent to military training against their will.

In February, New Delhi asked Moscow to allow its citizens who signed up to do auxiliary work in the Russian Army to be discharged early. The Indian Foreign Minister urged the public to "exercise due caution and stay away from [the war in Ukraine]." However, on March 7, Reuters confirmed that two Indian citizens, Mohammed Asfan and Hemil Mangukiya, who were fighting in Ukraine against their will, were killed. Both men were convinced to come to Russia by YouTube videos promising jobs and permanent residencies.

This is not the first time foreigners have been promised jobs and instead were forced to fight for Russia in its war in Ukraine. In September 2023, 17 people were arrested in Cuba after two 19-year-olds revealed they were trafficked to the frontline. In January, Nepal stopped issuing work permits for Russia after 10 men were killed in Ukraine, after being recruited through similar tactics. Similar efforts to lure and enlist men were uncovered in Syria and Kazakhstan. Male migrants in Russia have been forced to sign contracts with the army to receive citizenship.

The Indian Embassy in Russia said the mission would make efforts to return Mohammed Asfan's body home. Hemil Mangukiya's father told Reuters: "We are still waiting for his body to arrive so we can conduct his last rites."

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