Nepal has recently arrested a group of people who were involved in smuggling Nepali citizens to join the Russian military campaign in Ukraine. The 10 detainees are accused of extorting money from unemployed youths by promising them travel visas, only to force them into illegal recruitment into the Russian army. This has led to the death of six Nepali citizens and the capture of another by Kyiv’s forces in Ukraine.
The government of Nepal has urged Moscow to stop using Nepali mercenaries and to send back any Nepali men currently serving in the Russian military. The Kathmandu district police chief, Bhupendra Khatri, confirmed the arrest of the suspects and stated that they charged each person up to $9,000 and sent them to Russia on tourist visas, mainly through the United Arab Emirates. This illegal activity is considered human smuggling and organized crime.
Nepal, located between China and India, has requested compensation from Russia for the families of the Nepali citizens who lost their lives in Ukraine. The country is known for its brave and skilled soldiers, called Gurkhas, who have served in the British and Indian armies. However, there is no agreement for Nepali citizens to serve in the Russian army.
Many Nepalis seek employment abroad, and remittances from overseas workers play a significant role in Nepal’s economy, accounting for nearly a quarter of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year. Russia has been seeking soldiers from various sources to send to Ukraine, with a mobilization drive adding over 300,000 soldiers to the cause and the Wagner mercenary group recruiting thousands of convicts.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to increase the size of the Russian army by 15 percent, although the Kremlin stated that it would not seek to fill the quota with a draft by offering generous benefits to recruits. The use of Nepali citizens in the Russian military campaign has raised concerns and led to the arrest of those involved in the illegal recruitment process.
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