Nepal police arrest 10 for smuggling Gurkhas to fight for Russia in Ukraine

Nepal’s police say ‘human trafficking’ ring charges up to £7,143 per person to send them to Russia on tourist visas and then embed them in Russian army

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 06 December 2023 16:01 GMT
Kyiv suffers ‘largest ever’ drone attack by Russia leaving ‘five wounded’

Nepal police have arrested 10 people for allegedly sending unemployed youths to Russia for illegal recruitment into Vladimir Putin’s army, amid Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Kathmandu police said the suspects were charging up to $9,000 (£7,143) per person to traffic them to Russia on tourist visas and have them embedded in the Russian army.

The arrests are part of a police campaign to discourage vulnerable men from fighting on the front lines.

Nepal has been compelled to consolidate its diplomatic efforts following the deaths of at least six of its soldiers serving in the Russian military in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022. One Nepali soldier was captured by the Ukrainian army.

It prompted Nepal to call on Russia to stop sending its Gurkha soldiers to fight on the frontlines in Ukraine after a series of losses sparked anger among the families as they waited for the return of the last remains of slain combatants.

Kathmandu district police chief Bhupendra Khatri said: “We are discussing with the government lawyers about the case and will produce them to the court,” Mr Khatri said.

The men were being smuggled into Russia through the UAE, he said. “It is a case of human smuggling ... organised crime,” he added.

Scores of Nepali men have been drawn into the Russia-Ukraine war with mercenaries believed to be fighting on both sides. The young generation from the poor Himalayan nation are being lured into foreign countries for the prospect of a better future and a contract worth about $750 (£595) per month for fighting in the war.

In May, Mr Putin announced that foreigners who serve a year in the Russian military would have the process of their full Russian citizenship expedited.

Hundreds of Nepali soldiers are believed to be fighting on the front lines unofficially. But Nepal’s ambassador to Russia, Milan Raj Tuladhar, puts a conservative number between 150 and 200 of his country’s people embedded in the Russian army since the start of the war.

The country, which has a long tradition of serving in the foreign military, has no agreement with Russia for officially allowing youths to be employed in their army, unlike with the British and Indian armies.

The Nepali government has urged its people to not fight in the war and prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he is aware of people fighting in the conflict.

Nepal’s foreign ministry said diplomatic efforts were underway for the release of a Nepali soldier from Ukraine’s army following his capture while fighting on behalf of Russia.

"The government of Nepal has requested the Russian government to immediately return their bodies and pay compensation to their families," the foreign ministry said late on Monday.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in