Russians exploit foreigners as “cannon fodder” in their war against Ukraine – Ukraine’s UN envoy

Дата: 16 June 2024
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The Russians send young Africans to the front lines in Ukraine, explicitly threatening to deport them from the Russian Federation if they refuse.

Captured Russian invaders with an African mercenary

News agency Bloomberg, citing European officials and a senior Ukrainian official, states that Moscow has forced thousands of migrants and foreign students to fight against Ukraine in attempts to bolster its offensive in Kharkiv Oblast.

According to European diplomats, Russian officials are increasingly threatening to refuse to renew visas for African students and young workers if they do not agree to join the army.

One European diplomat stated that Moscow also recruits convicts from its prisons, and some Africans on work permits in Russia are jailed and forced to choose between deportation and involvement in military activities. At the same time, some of these immigrants were able to pay Russian officials to stay in the country and evade military service.

According to another European official, Russia’s practice of forcing migrants and students into warfare began at the start of the war. These troops incur exceptionally high casualty rates because they are increasingly involved in dangerous offensive manoeuvres to protect better-trained forces.

According to a Ukrainian official, the number of foreign combatants among prisoners of war captured by the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the battlefield has increased. Africans and Nepalese are particularly prevalent among them.

Ukrainian intelligence states that Russia is running a global effort to recruit foreign mercenaries in at least 21 nations, including several in Africa.

Army recruitment campaigns offer compensation for those who serve and hefty bonuses for signing a contract. Recruiters also target migrants and students who have previously sought work in Russia and, in some cases, entice them with promises of lucrative jobs before forcing them to undertake training and go to the front lines.

Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, Serhii Kyslytsya, has called on countries to track those who recruit foreigners to sign a contract with the Russian army.

Serhii Kyslytsya

Kyslytsya told of the escape of 22 Sri Lankans who managed to desert the Russian army and come back home. One of these 22 people, Anil Madusanka, told journalists he had been offered a job as a driver in Russia. However, upon arrival, he was handed an assault rifle and sent to the front line. After being wounded, he managed to escape to his country’s embassy in Moscow, which arranged his repatriation.

We urge all Member States to trace the Russian recruiters in your countries and take measures to prevent a devastating impact of the Russian crisis on the safety of your citizens. Let’s be clear: Russia is looking for cannon fodder, Kyslytsya wrote on his Facebook page.

UK Defence Intelligence has analysed reports of Russia’s attempts to recruit Africans to fight in the war against Ukraine. It sees this as a sign that Moscow is already experiencing a shortage of conscription volunteers among prisoners, a category that it has previously relied on to mitigate public discontent.

The authors of the UK Ministry of Defense report on the Russian-Ukrainian war mention data from Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence that Russia is stepping up its attempts to recruit citizens of African countries, including Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and Uganda, to fight against Ukraine. Russians promise them monthly payments of USD 2,000-2,200 and the prospect of Russian citizenship.

The UK analysts suggest that this campaign reflects Russia’s attempts to actively replace significant manpower losses and simultaneously support offensive actions on many fronts. 

“With Russia’s finite pool of convict recruitment likely exhausted, Russia is likely expanding its recruitment across the Global South, to avoid additional mobilisations within Russia itself. As well as being domestically unpopular for President Putin and the Russian government, the previous mobilisation for the war resulted in a record labour shortage and an exodus of skilled workers such as doctors and IT professionals,” the report of the UK Defense Intelligence stated.

In February of 2024, CNN and opposition Nepali MP Bimala Rai Paudyal reported that the Russian Federation had recruited about 15,000 Nepali citizens to participate in the war against Ukraine.

Earlier, the BBC News told the stories about affected persons, including David Moothappan, 23, from the Indian village of Pozhiyoor in Kerala.

Earlier, Ghana and Sierra Leone called on Russia to stop the war in Ukraine as it harms African countries.

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