Moscow comments on Indians’ return from Ukraine warzone

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New Delhi has sought Moscow’s help in repatriating its nationals lured to fight alongside the Russian army

New Delhi and Moscow are “on the same side” with regard to repatriating “as quickly as possible” Indian citizens who appeared to be fighting in the Ukraine conflict, Russian Deputy Envoy to India, Roman Babushkin, told media outlets on Wednesday.

The diplomat’s comment comes a day after Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said in Moscow that around ten out of the 35-50 Indian citizens who were lured to the conflict zone to fight alongside the Russian military have returned to India, with the help of Russian officials.

According to New Delhi, the total number of its nationals serving in the Russian military could be between 35 and 50. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral summit earlier this week.

Babushkin stressed that the Russian military does not “lack soldiers” and does not proactively recruit foreign fighters. “There are so many volunteers in Russia itself,” he stated, adding that Indians identified in the conflict zone went there “for purely commercial reasons.” “In order to earn money, to get some more advantages and more benefits, including facilitated Russian citizenship,” he explained.

According to reports, many Indian citizens were enticed to Russia with the promise of lucrative jobs or education by suspected human traffickers and then were made to sign contracts with the military. Babushkin emphasized the importance of cracking down on such agencies – in both India and Russia – to stop the practice.

"From Both Ways We Should Act On That" - Joint Effort Needed To Stop Agents Involved In Trafficking People To War ZonesRoman Babushkin told that neither Russia or the Indian govt want Indian citizens to be "part of the Russian Army" and that they "should work on the agents who…

India’s premier investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), announced in May that it uncovered a human trafficking ring that sent young Indians to Russia with promises of lucrative employment opportunities and made arrests. Last month, New Delhi announced that two Indian nationals had been killed, and urged its citizens to “exercise caution.”

Highlighting the results of Modi’s visit to Russia, Babushkin stressed that the meeting showed that “multipolarity is a matter of fact.” He added that engagements between the leaders were “aimed to unlock the full potential of the multifaceted, mutually complementary and all-weather special and privileged strategic partnership.”

India has enjoyed a close relationship with Moscow for decades, has refused to condemn Russia over Ukraine, and called for an end to the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. Meanwhile, trade between the two sides has skyrocketed to a historic high of $65 billion.

A joint statement released by New Delhi and Moscow after the talks said they had set out nine key areas for closer cooperation, including nuclear energy, military, and security. The leaders also said they would aim to boost bilateral trade by more than half, to $100 billion by 2030. They also expressed their “readiness to intensify trade and investment cooperation” in the Russian Far East and Arctic zone.

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