Indian Nationals Smuggled and Enlisted in Russia

A group of Indian men claiming they had been coerced to fight for Russia in the war in Ukraine (Source:

On March 7, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) declared that it had dismantled a “major human trafficking network” that had been luring Indian citizens into fighting alongside Russian forces in the conflict in Ukraine under false pretenses.

The CBI said it had carried out raids in 13 different locations in cities across India and had discovered at least 35 cases of Indians being sent overseas, according to the Ukrainian news outlet The Kyiv Independent. If all 35 had been sent to Ukraine, it was not made clear.

The media has recently reported on numerous incidents of Indian men traveling to Russia for employment or vacation only to be forced to enlist in the war against Ukraine, where they sometimes perished in combat.

The Russian military suffered significant casualties as a result of its conflict with Ukraine. In an effort to reduce unpopular conscription among the populace, Moscow has been drawing in recruits from throughout Central and South Asia as well as in Syria.

Earlier this week, a video posted on the social media platform X featured seven young men from the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana pleading with Indian authorities for assistance.

Dressed in military gear, the group of men stated that they departed for Russia on December 27, 2023, in order to celebrate the New Year. According to an Indian man speaking in the video, their travel agent promised to take them to Belarus without requiring visas, but he later deserted them, the NDTV news channel reported.

According to NDTV’s March 6 report, local police allegedly turned them over to Russian authorities, who forced them to sign papers and enlist in the military to fight in Ukraine. Since then, there have even reportedly been some Indian citizens killed in combat.

In September 2023, the Defense Ministry of the United Kingdom revealed that Russia was attempting to attract foreign nationals and migrant laborers in order to postpone announcing another mobilization campaign prior to the 2024 presidential election.

India has mostly taken a neutral posture ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, refusing to denounce Moscow’s military aggression or stand with the West in isolating Russia.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Moscow in December 2023 where the two countries appeared to increase economic cooperation.


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