Why young men from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are on the front lines of Russia’s war on Ukraine? – South Asia Time

Why young men from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are on the front lines of Russia’s war on Ukraine?

 May 2, 2024  

As the Russia-Ukraine conflict rages on, a significant number of mercenaries from South Asia have joined the ranks, driven by economic hardships and promises of financial security. Predominantly hailing from Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka, these men have become a notable presence on both sides of the conflict, with many fighting alongside Russian forces.

The recruitment process for these mercenaries often begins through social media channels, where calls for volunteers are posted, enticing individuals with the prospect of lucrative salaries and opportunities abroad. For some, like Bimal Bhandari, a 32-year-old Nepali mercenary, the decision to join the war stems from dire financial circumstances at home.

In Sri Lanka, a country grappling with economic turmoil and political unrest, the allure of steady income has drawn hundreds to serve in Russia’s military ranks. Despite the risks involved, including the recent deaths of several recruits, many see it as a means to escape the economic hardships plaguing their homeland.

However, the reality of their deployment often falls short of promises made by recruiting agencies. Many recruits report receiving minimal training before being thrust onto the front lines, where they serve as little more than expendable assets in the conflict. Ratna Karki, a 34-year-old Nepali recruit, described how they were used as shields by Russian commanders, highlighting the grim conditions faced by these mercenaries.

As casualties mount and families mourn the loss of their loved ones, governments in South Asia are grappling with the aftermath of their citizens’ involvement in the war. Efforts to repatriate recruits and hold accountable those responsible for their recruitment are underway, but challenges persist in navigating the legal and diplomatic complexities of the situation.

For countries like Nepal and India, addressing the root causes of migration and economic instability may offer a more sustainable solution in the long term. Until then, the plight of South Asian mercenaries in the Russia-Ukraine conflict serves as a stark reminder of the human toll of war and the desperation that drives individuals to its front lines.