India asks Russia for early release of nationals in Russia army ‘support jobs’

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reported Friday that it has asked Russia for the early release of Indian nationals working in “support jobs” for the Russian army. The MEA also cautioned Indian nationals to stay away from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

MEA’s official spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal, in response to media queries regarding “Indians caught in conflict in Russia,” stated:

We are aware that a few Indian nationals have signed up for support jobs with the Russian army. The Indian Embassy has regularly taken up this matter with the relevant Russian authorities for their early discharge. We urge all Indian nationals to exercise due caution and stay away from this conflict.

The response came in the aftermath of a report by the local newspaper The Hindu, which claimed around 18 Indians have been stranded in border cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv since November 2023 amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. One person has been reported killed. As per the report, this marks the first known instance of Indians being on the Russian side in combat, contrasting with earlier reports of some joining the International Legion to fight Russians in Ukraine in 2022.

Jaiswal reiterated India’s neutral stance with regard to the ongoing conflict in a media briefing on February 8. He stated:

Our position on the war is very clear where we are. We want that there be dialogue and conversation and diplomacy. That is the best route forward. Our leaders have articulated our position very well on several accounts. So that is where it is. We also provided our support to…humanitarian support to Ukraine. And we continue to call on the parties to come forward to dialogue and discussion and take things forward.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict, which began in 2014, escalated dramatically on February 24, 2022, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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