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Russia clarifies: 'Never wanted to recruit Indians in our Army'; reiterates commitment to early discharge

Claims most of these individuals had entered Russia on tourist visas rather than work permits, which means they were working illegally

Reported by:  With Agency Inputs  Edited by:  Jasleen Kaur -- July 10th 2024 07:33 PM
Russia clarifies: 'Never wanted to recruit Indians in our Army'; reiterates commitment to early discharge

Russia clarifies: 'Never wanted to recruit Indians in our Army'; reiterates commitment to early discharge

PTC Web Desk: Russia on Wednesday expressed its hope for a swift and amicable resolution to the issue surrounding Indian nationals who were recruited as support staff for the Russian Army. This development follows recent high-level discussions between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, highlighting the diplomatic efforts to address this complex situation.

The comments came from Roman Babushkin, Russia’s Charge d'affaires in India, during a media briefing where he addressed the ongoing concerns about the recruitment of Indian nationals into the Russian army. Babushkin said Russia’s intention was never to involve Indians in the military conflict but rather to engage them for commercial purposes. "We are on the same side as the Indian government on this issue," Babushkin stated, expressing hope that the matter would be resolved quickly. 


The issue came to the forefront when Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly raised the matter with President Putin during a recent high-profile visit to Russia. This visit was marked by a formal summit between the leaders, where PM Modi urged Putin to ensure the early release and safe return of Indian nationals working in the Russian military as support staff. 


Babushkin took the opportunity to clarify that the recruitment of Indians into the Russian Army was a commercial arrangement and not a military or strategic initiative by Russia. "Let us be very clear, we have never wanted Indians to be part of the Russian Army," he explained. He further emphasised that the number of Indian nationals involved—estimated to be between 50 and 100—was minor in the context of the larger military conflict. According to Babushkin, these individuals were recruited under a commercial framework with the primary motivation of earning money, not participating in the conflict.

The Charge d'affaires also addressed concerns regarding the legality of the Indians' presence in Russia. He revealed that most of these individuals had entered Russia on tourist visas rather than work permits, which means they were working illegally. 

In response to questions about compensation for the families of Indian nationals who had been killed in the conflict, Babushkin assured that compensation and other contractual obligations would be met as per the agreements made. 

Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra had confirmed that Russia had committed to the early discharge of all Indian nationals from Russian military service. This commitment was a direct result of Prime Minister Modi’s strong stance on the issue during his discussions with President Putin. Kwatra noted that the Prime Minister’s intervention was crucial in securing this promise from the Russian side and that both countries would now work together to expedite the return of the Indian nationals to their home country.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had earlier expressed grave concern over the recruitment of Indian nationals by the Russian Army. In June, the MEA reported that two Indian nationals had been killed in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, raising the total number of Indian casualties to four. This development prompted India to demand a verified halt to any further recruitment of Indian nationals by the Russian military, asserting that such actions were incompatible with the spirit of the India-Russia partnership.

In a strongly-worded statement, the MEA had called for a "verified stop" to further recruitment activities and stressed that such actions should align with international norms and bilateral agreements between the two countries. This stance was a critical element of India’s diplomatic efforts to address the issue and safeguard the interests of its nationals.

During the recent summit, Prime Minister Modi’s informal discussions with President Putin at the latter’s dacha, or country home, also focused on the broader context of India-Russia relations, including security and economic cooperation. 

- With inputs from agencies

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