LifestyleIndian tourists in Russia coerced into fighting in Ukraine conflict

Indian tourists in Russia coerced into fighting in Ukraine conflict

Tourists from India were drafted into the army. They had no idea what was threatening them.
Tourists from India were drafted into the army. They had no idea what was threatening them.
Images source: © X
6:31 AM EST, March 7, 2024

This distressing scenario was first brought to light by Uma Sudhir, a journalist from the Indian broadcaster NDTV. On platform X, she shared a video that features an appeal from the Indian citizens who were forcibly inducted into the Russian army.

An unexpected turn into military involvement

The circumstances surrounding the Indian tourists are deeply concerning. Upon their arrival in Russia, they were enticed with an offer for a trip to Belarus. Unaware of the illegal nature of the trip due to the absence of the required entry visas, they agreed and proceeded. "The so-called travel agency's representative demanded money from us and then vanished," one of the Indian citizens recounted to Radio Free Europe.

Once in Belarus, the tourists were detained by the local police and subsequently deported back to Russia. Here, they were compelled to sign documents in Russian, an unfamiliar language. This led to their being sent for a 15-day military training, culminating in their induction into the military. Indian media outlets have reported that, against their wishes, they were deployed to "a place where war is ongoing," alluding to Ukraine.

Based on reports from NDTV, refusing to serve in the Russian military came with a dire alternative: a 10-year prison sentence.

"These individuals, wholly unprepared for any form of warfare, could find themselves on the frontline at any moment," Sudhir cautioned on platform X.

The press-ganging of foreigners into conflict

Sadly, this incident is not singular. The Hindu portal estimates that around 100 Indians have been involved in the invasion of Ukraine over the past year, many of whom were allegedly coerced into participation while in Russia.

In February, Indian authorities officially requested the Kremlin to consider an "early discharge from service" for Indian citizens conscripted into the Russian army.

In recent months, there have been numerous instances reported of Russians recruiting citizens from countries such as Cuba, Nepal, Belarus, Serbia, and the Central African Republic for the conflict. In January, Ukrainian media outlets reported sightings of mercenaries from Malaysia within the occupied territories of the Donetsk region.

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