Seven Nepali youths escape warfront in Russia, share harrowing experiences

Ramesh Bharati 29 Jan 2024
Seven Nepali youths escape warfront in Russia, share harrowing experiences Aerial view of warfront in Bakhmut. Photo: AP/RSS

KATHMANDU: Seven Nepalis serving in the Russian Army have escaped from the war front and returned home. All seven sustained injuries during their time with the Russian Army. Three of them currently receiving treatment at different hospitals in Kathmandu.

One of the youths, Krishna Prasad Oli from Dailekh, is receiving medical care at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. He has four bullet injuries, according to attending doctors. Similarly, two other youths from Nuwakot and Dhading districts are receiving treatment in Kathmandu for bullet injuries. Both have told doctors that the bullets were removed from their bodies in Russia. Both have declined to share details about their personal information and how they joined the Russian army.

The three, along with Rabin Joshi from Kailali, reached Russia on student visas. Joshi is currently nursing a plastered hand. The remaining three – Bikas Gurung and Kabindra Magar from Morang, and Maniraj Limbu from Sunsari – have sustained minor injuries. Maniraj was working as a security guard in the UAE, while Bikas and Kabindra were employed by the UAE Police when they were approached by recruitment agents. The three were deployed in Bakhmut in Ukraine.

All seven reached Russia with the help of recruitment agents and got injured on the war front within two months of their arrival in Russia.

“Ukraine regularly conducts drone attacks in Bakhmut to reclaim its territory. The Russian Army has deployed many Nepalis in Bakhmut and other high-risk areas. Since our friends started falling before us and we were not allowed to contact our families, we decided to flee,” Joshi said.

According to Joshi, the Russian Army has 11 barracks in Bakhmut, with 10-15 Nepalis in each barrack. “Most of them feel insecure and are seeking an opportunity to flee,” he added.

These youths claim they joined the Russian Army after being promised a monthly pay of Rs 300,000. “Russian soldiers deploy mercenaries on the front line,” Joshi, who served in the Russian Army for two and a half months, said. “I’ve heard from Russian soldiers that 20-25 Nepalis have died in Bakhmut alone. An ambulance driver of Indian origin shared with me that more than 70 injured Nepalis have been removed from the war front.”

Bikas said 90 Nepalis reached Bakhmut on the day they fled the war front. “They confiscated our mobile phones and passports at the airport. It was very difficult for us to reach Nepal without official documents,” he said. Bikas added that he was sent to the war front after only 19 days of training. “They taught us how to use weapons and tactical positions. Russian soldiers also showed us videos of the war during the training, but only the ones they had won.”

He added that Russian soldiers warned them that Russian soldiers were present in Nepal and that they would be arrested if fled the war fronts.

“When we left the UAE for Russia, there were 11 of us in the team. The number increased to 30 when we reached Moscow. Most of the individuals we met at the recruitment center in Moscow were Nepalis,” he added. Bikas said that youths from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Congo, and others are also serving in the Russian Army.

The foreign ministry has confirmed the deaths of 13 Nepalis while serving in the Russian Army so far. However, their bodies have not been repatriated to Nepal, and the families of the victims have not received any compensation yet.

Published On: 29 Jan 2024


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