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Over 3,000 Nepalis joined Russian army, captured POW estimates

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 25, 2024 11:04 PM 2 min read
A video obtained by the Kyiv Independent shows a Nepali POW talking to Ukrainian authorties following his capture on the battlefield. The POW estimates that Over 3,000 Nepalis may have joined the Russian army. (Courtesy)
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Over 3,000 Nepalis may have joined the Russian army, a captured Nepali POW told Ukrainian authorities on video obtained exclusively by the Kyiv Independent.

Nepal's government previously estimated that up to 200 Nepalis are fighting for Russia. About 100 Nepalis have been reported missing and at least 14 have been confirmed killed while serving in the Russian army.

CNN reported in February, citing multiple sources, that 15,000 Nepalis had gone to fight for Russia.

"I guess around 3,000 to 4,000 Nepalis joined the Russian army," Rai Bikash, the captured POW said, after estimating that he saw around 200 Nepalis with his own eyes during his short time in the Russian military.

The POW said he joined the Russian army due to financial pressures, as he had debts of over $20,000. "If you get a job in the private sector (in Nepal), you will get a maximum of around $200" per month, the POW said.

"The only reason (Nepalese join the Russian army) is to make money...the one and only option is to go abroad and make money," Bikash said. The man was captured within one month, so was never paid.

The man said that Nepalis are promised a job away from the front line and given a contract that stipulates a 105 day training period, which he did not receive.

Russia is "recruiting all nationalities," the POW added.

Russia is known to have targeted men from countries including Cuba, Kazakhstan, and Somalia to fight in its army.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz service reported on June 24 that a Kyrgyz national was sentenced to five years in prison for fighting for Russia in Ukraine, as the country's law forbids participating in conflicts on foreign territory.

Nepalese fighters have received significant media attention in recent months, as Nepalese law only permits its citizens to serve in the British and Indian armies.

Reuters reported in January that Nepal halted issuing foreign work permits for its citizens to work in Russia until further notice due to reports of its citizens being killed while fighting in Ukraine.

Over 800 people were issued work permits for civilian work in Russia in the past two years, Reuters said, citing official data.

Nepal urged the Russian government to stop recruiting Nepalese citizens into its army in December after at least six of its nationals were confirmed killed.

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Adil Muhammad, a Somali, sits in a Russian military uniform among other prisoners of war (POWs) in a press conference in Ukraine’s capital in mid-March. The former infantryman was captured in combat near Marinka in Donetsk Oblast while fighting with the Russian army in Ukraine in early 2024, five

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