Ukraine urges poor nations to protect citizens from Russian recruitment

Alleged Russian mercenaries arrested by Ukraine presented before the media in Kyiv. —X/@Maria_Drutska/File

KYIV: Ukraine urged Global South countries on Friday to do more to prevent their citizens from being recruited to fight for Russia in its war on Ukraine, presenting to the public what it said were eight prisoners of war from such countries.

Those people included five men from Nepal, and one each from Cuba, Somalia and Sierra Leone, according to Petro Yatsenko, a representative at the Ukrainian government’s Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

“By showing these citizens who are captured, we are saying that perhaps it is necessary to use more radical, more effective steps so that tens, hundreds of these people won’t be conned by agitators,” he told reporters in Kyiv.

“If we take a country with a low level of income per population, there is a high probability that some citizens of that country may be recruited by Russia and used as storm troopers, cannon fodder,” Yatsenko said.

Last week, India said it uncovered a major trafficking network which it said lured young men to take jobs in Russia before sending them to the front.

In December, Nepal said it asked Moscow not to recruit its citizens into the Russian army and to send back any Nepali soldier serving there.

The prisoners were presented in military uniforms, sat in two rows, at a news conference in central Kyiv.

“As long as they aren’t decreed by a court to be mercenaries, we are treating them in the same way we are treating other prisoners of war,” Yatsenko added.

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