What is motivating South Asians to participate in the Russia-Ukraine conflict? | Updates on Russia-Ukraine war

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Young men from South Asia were lured into joining the Russian army in the war against Ukraine with promises of high salaries and benefits. Now, they find themselves without pay and facing danger on the front lines with no way to escape easily.

Most of the foreign fighters in the Russia-Ukraine war are from Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. While the exact number of Nepali fighters is uncertain, estimates suggest that around 200 Nepalis were fighting in Russia by the end of 2023. Some reports indicate that up to a thousand Nepali fighters may have been deployed. The unofficial number of Indian fighters in Ukraine is believed to be around 100.

The motivation for South Asians to join the war varies. In Sri Lanka, economic hardships and political unrest have led some men to see fighting in Ukraine as an opportunity to earn money amidst the crisis. In Nepal, the allure of higher salaries compared to the low average per capita income encourages men to seek opportunities abroad.

Recruitment tactics for South Asian fighters often involve social media advertisements and hefty fees paid to travel agencies. While promises of training and benefits are made, many recruits have reported receiving minimal combat training before being sent to the front lines.

As casualties among South Asian fighters continue to rise, efforts are being made by their respective governments to repatriate them and provide support to their families. Investigations into the recruitment process and potential human trafficking networks are also underway in countries like Nepal and India.

The situation highlights the need for long-term solutions to address economic disparities and create opportunities for employment within South Asian countries, in order to prevent vulnerable individuals from falling victim to exploitative recruitment practices.

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