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10 Feb 2024

Samk Kharel, Al Jazeera (Qatar)

‘Want to go home’: Nepalis fighting for Russia in Ukraine describe horrors

See all tags Allegations


While Nepal’s government does not have exact numbers of the country’s nationals fighting as mercenaries for Russia, some analysts believe they may total as many as one thousand. At least 12 Nepalis have been killed in the fighting, and five others captured by Ukraine.

Nepal’s government is negotiating with Russia diplomatically for the repatriation of its citizens and the bodies of the deceased, the families of civilian-turned-mercenaries are losing patience...

Recruits say they received hardly any training before being sent to fight. While the traffickers had assured these civilians of a full-fledged, three-month-long training programme, they received less than a month of combat drills in the Rostov region in southwestern Russia bordering Ukraine. “I had only seen a gun from a distance, I had never held it before,” Chettri told Al Jazeera...

Three months into the war, Bhandari has not been paid even once, while Chettri has received less than half of what was promised.

Nepali fighters and their families are urging their government to step in, so the recruits can get back to their country.

“We are in regular communication with the Russian government, and have asked them for the name list of Nepali recruits, to repatriate them and send dead bodies soon.” Amrit Bahadur Rai, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Al Jazeera. “We have also urged them to provide compensation to the families of the deceased”. However, the Russian government has not publicly responded to any of the requests. The Russian embassy in Kathmandu was not available for comments...

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