Modi to push for early release of Indians from Russian army during Moscow talks


The early discharge sought by India of its nationals who were “misled” into serving in the Russian army is expected to be discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow next week, his foreign secretary said on Friday.

Several cases of Indians who were lured to Russia with the promise of lucrative jobs or education and ended up fighting against Ukraine have emerged over the last few months, and Indian police in May arrested four people linked to a human trafficking network behind the practice.

Moscow has so far not responded to repeated requests from Reuters for comment.

At least four Indian nationals have been killed in the war so far, prompting Modi’s government to call for an immediate stop to such recruitment and quick release of Indians fighting in the army.

India estimates anywhere between 30 and 40 of its citizens could be already serving, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told a media briefing on Friday.

“All efforts have been made that Indian nationals return as soon as possible,” he said, adding that 10 Indians have already been brought back.

Thousands of people have died on both sides since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 but India, which has enjoyed a close relationship with Moscow for decades, has refused to condemn Russia for the war, instead calling for an end to the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.

Other South Asian nations have also warned their citizens against being lured into joining the Russian army.

Sri Lanka has tightened controls to stop its citizens being duped, with the government saying dozens who want to return home are already fighting in the war.

Nepal, similarly, said in May that several of its citizens have illegally been recruited to join the Russian army, with at least 200 estimated to be serving at the front and about 100 missing.

Modi will visit Russia on July 8 and 9 for talks with President Vladimir Putin, both countries said earlier this