India calls for early release of nationals working for Russian army

By Thomson Reuters Feb 23, 2024 | 2:34 AM

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India has asked Russia for the early release of some Indians working with the Russian army in “support jobs”, New Delhi said on Friday, urging its nationals to stay away from the two-year-old Ukraine war.

The statement from the Indian foreign ministry came after the Hindu newspaper reported that around 100 Indians had been recruited in the past year under contracts lasting at least a year. Nationals of many countries have sought work with the Russian army, including from India’s neighbour Nepal.

“We are aware that a few Indian nationals have signed up for support jobs with the Russian army,” said the statement, without giving any figure.

“The Indian Embassy has regularly taken up this matter with the relevant Russian authorities for their early discharge. We urge all Indian nationals to exercise due caution and stay away from this conflict.”

The Russian embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Russia and India have close defence and trade relations.

Nepal last month stopped issuing permits to its citizens to work in Russia and Ukraine until further notice after at least 10 Nepali soldiers were killed while serving in the Russian army.

Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022 in what it calls a “special military operation”. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides have since died in the bloodiest land war in Europe since World War Two.

(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik in New Delhi)