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Moscow comments on reports of Indians, Sri Lankans fighting in Ukraine conflict

Russia’s foreign ministry has said it is in constant touch with New Delhi and Colombo 

The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday said its missions in India and Sri Lanka have been in constant contact with external affairs officials in New Delhi and Colombo over the involvement of their citizens in Russia’s military operation against Ukraine. According to the ministry, comments have been “repeatedly provided” to the diplomatic mission of the two countries in Moscow. 

“Russia’s foreign missions in New Delhi and Colombo have also regularly informed and continue to keep the Indian and Sri Lankan foreign ministries updated on all changes and noteworthy details on this issue,” the ministry said, noting that specific details of the matter are available with the Russia Ministry of Defense. 

The statement comes in the wake of New Delhi’s recent announcement that two of its nationals had been killed in the conflict zone. 

The country’s foreign ministry said it was seeking the “early release and return” of all Indian nationals who are believed to be fighting alongside the armed forces of Russia. At the same time, it also urged citizens to “exercise caution” while “seeking employment opportunities in Russia.”

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New Delhi cracks down on human trafficking network luring Indians to the front line

Earlier this year India’s top investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), uncovered a human trafficking ring that brought young Indians to Russia with the promise of lucrative employment opportunities. CBI announced in March that it had conducted raids in a number of locations across India and initiated legal proceedings against several visa consultancy firms and agents implicated in the scheme. 

A spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said at that time that action had been initiated against “agents and unscrupulous elements who recruited [people] on false pretexts and promises.”

Media reports in India previously claimed that Indians from various states had been allegedly lured to Russia on the promise of well-paid jobs. The agent responsible for recruitment reportedly charged each individual a hefty 350,000 rupees ($4,230) for facilitating their travel to Russia.

The reports, as well as the details of CBI’s crackdown on the human trafficking network, emerged after the tragic death of 30-year-old Mohammed Afsan from Hyderabad, who was allegedly misled by agents in India into traveling to Russia and signing a contract with the Russian military. 

In May, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, answering a question on reports of Indians being deployed to the zone of military operation, stated that Russian authorities have not been “recruiting” Indian citizens.

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June 18, 2024 at 03:18PM

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