15,000 ‘Gurkha’ Soldiers Joined Russian Army To Fight Ukraine; Nepal Promises Repatriation – Reports

After a 17-day protest in Kathmandu, families of Nepal’s mercenaries fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine have gained assurance from the Nepal government that their demands would be addressed.

The protest by the families, which ended on May 5, saw relatives applying pressure on authorities to secure the safe return of their loved ones and address their concerns about those engaged in the conflict.

The demands put forth by the families include the safe repatriation of Nepal’s citizens serving in the Russian army, compensation and medical treatment for those injured in combat, the safe evacuation of five Nepalese held as prisoners of war by Ukrainian forces, the repatriation of deceased soldiers, dignified compensation as outlined by the Russian government, and an investigation into the whereabouts of those missing in action.

The Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers released a statement affirming the government’s commitment to address these demands through diplomatic channels. Incidentally, it is a promise that has been reiterated over several months.

Nepalese authorities disclosed that they were in contact with over 200 families of Nepalese mercenaries in the Russian army. They confirmed that at least 19 had died while five were in captivity.

While there is no official data on the exact number of Nepalese mercenaries in the Russian military, reports suggested that up to 15,000 Nepalese men have joined Russian forces since the announcement of a lucrative recruitment package by the Russian government.

This package, offering a salary of $2,000 per month along with expedited citizenship processes, has attracted many Nepalese seeking better economic opportunities.

The allure of financial stability and the promise of a fast-tracked path to citizenship have led many to overlook the risks involved in joining a foreign military conflict. Some individuals claimed they were deceived into frontline combat roles after being promised non-combatant positions such as cooking and cleaning.

Traditionally, India has been a favored destination for Nepalese job seekers, particularly within the Indian Army’s renowned Gorkha regiment.

However, recent changes in India’s recruitment policies have left aspiring candidates to seek alternative avenues for employment. With negotiations between Nepal and India stalled over recruitment terms, the Russian Army emerged as an enticing option for many disillusioned youths.

Indians & Cubans Join Too

Recent revelations of alleged coercion of foreign nationals to serve in the Russian army have sparked international outrage and calls for action. In addition to Nepal, similar concerns have been raised by Indian and Cuban authorities regarding their citizens’ recruitment into the Russian Armed Forces.

Gorkha regiment Indian Army
Indian Army soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles and U.S. Army paratroopers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division move toward their objective after being dropped off by U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters for a field training exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 11, 2013, during exercise Yudh Abhyas 2013. Yudh Abhyas is an annual bilateral training exercise between the Indian Army and U.S. Army Pacific, hosted by the XVIII Airborne Corps. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod/Released)

In a statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in March, it was said that several Indian nationals had been deceived into serving in the Russian army.

Indian authorities have strongly condemned this practice and have sought the immediate release of their citizens from what they describe as a case of human trafficking. According to spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal, efforts are underway to ensure the safe return of these individuals to India.

Meanwhile, leaked documents uncovered by a BBC investigation team have shed light on the alleged coercion of Cuban citizens into joining Russia’s Armed Forces.

These documents suggest that hundreds of Cubans have been recruited since the onset of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Pro-Ukrainian hackers leaked the names of at least 200 Cubans, with some reports indicating that these individuals were promised Russian citizenship within months of enlisting.

The BBC’s findings also indicate that some Cubans who migrated to Russia in search of employment in the construction sector were instead deployed to the eastern front in Ukraine.

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This revelation has prompted condemnation from Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, which has denounced the exploitation of its citizens for military purposes.

Further, it has been reported that Russia’s recruitment efforts extend beyond Nepal, India, and Cuba, targeting individuals from countries such as Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Somalia, and various other Central Asian and African nations.

This systematic recruitment of foreign nationals underscores Russia’s attempts to bolster its military forces. Observers suggest that Moscow’s efforts to recruit manpower from abroad have been driven by the significant losses incurred in war.

In January, President Vladimir Putin authorized a decree offering expedited Russian citizenship to foreigners who commit to a one-year contract with the Russian army, along with the provision of new passports for their families.

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