India Uncovers Human Trafficking Scheme Recruiting Fighters for Ukraine Conflict

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.08 - 2024 1:21 PM CET

Photo: Talukdar David /
Photo: Talukdar David /
The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation has exposed a human trafficking network misleading Indian nationals into fighting for Russia.

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The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) disclosed on March 7 that they had uncovered a significant human trafficking operation. This network deceived Indian citizens into joining Russian forces in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Reports have emerged of Indian men, initially in Russia for work or tourism, being forced or misled into participating in the war against Ukraine. With the Russian military facing substantial losses, Moscow has looked to foreign recruits to avoid drafting its citizens, drawing individuals from Central, South Asia, and beyond.

The CBI revealed, "luring Indian nationals through social media channels like Youtube etc., and also through their local contacts/agents for highly paid jobs in Russia."

"Thereafter, the trafficked Indian nationals were trained in combat roles and deployed at front bases in (the) Russia - Ukraine War Zone against their wishes, thus, putting their lives in grave danger. It has been ascertained that some of the victims also got grievously injured in the war zone."

The investigation found some Indians were seriously injured in the conflict, with media reports including The Guardian noting that some have died.

Following raids across 13 locations in India, the CBI identified 35 cases of Indians being trafficked abroad, though it's unclear if all were deployed to Ukraine.

The Indian government, acknowledging the situation, stated, "the Indian Embassy has taken up their early discharge with the relevant Russian authorities. We urge all Indians to stay away from this conflict."

The CBI also cautioned the public against falling for job offers from suspicious recruitment agencies and agents.

Neighboring Nepal has already responded to similar concerns by halting work permits for its citizens heading to Russia, following reports of Nepalese casualties in Ukraine.

India-Russia Relations Amid the Conflict

Despite these developments, India maintains strong ties with Russia, a key military supplier against Pakistan, supported by the U.S. Amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, India has stayed neutral, neither condemning Russia's actions nor joining Western sanctions.

During a December 2023 visit to Moscow, India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar affirmed, "Indo-Russia ties are very strong, very steady,"

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