3 more Nepalis in Russian army killed

But neither the Nepal government nor its Moscow embassy know how many of its nationals are fighting as mercenaries on the Ukraine front

Screenshots of posts on TikTok by Nepalis who joined the Russian Army.

Three more Nepalis who joined the Russian Army have died on the Ukraine front, bringing the total to four. Several others have been wounded, and one deserted the Russian military and returned to Nepal to tell harrowing tales of suffering.

The deaths of the three was contained in a letter sent to Department of Consular Services in Kathmandu by the Nepal Embassy in Moscow on 24 November, and was only revealed on Wednesday. 

Pritam Karki of Syangja, Raj Kumar Roka of Dolakha, and Ganga Raj Moktan of Ilam were killed in action on 15 November possibly near the town of Avdiivka where a fierce battle has been raging for three months. Another Nepali serving in the Russian Army, Sandip Thapaliya from Gorkha, is also said to have been killed in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in July, and his body buried near the frontline.

Russian authorities confirmed the deaths, sending death certificates of the three Nepalis, said the embassy. 

Relatives in Nepal say that there is little to no contact with loved ones in the Russian army, and Nepalis who had joined up described brutal battles during sparse phone calls from the battlefront. 

There have been unconfirmed reports of deaths and injuries of other Nepalis since they began to join the Russian military. Officials in Nepal have said that there is little way to determine how many Nepalis left to join the Russian Army. 

The Nepali Embassy’s letter to the Department of Consular Services also requested to establish communication with the families of the deceased youth. The families have sent letters to the Foreign Ministry to ask for details about their loved ones.

Read also: Nepalis in the Russian Army want to quit, Bhadra Sharma

The Foreign Ministry has yet to confirm or officially address the deaths of the Nepalis. However, friends and families of those killed in the war were informed by Foreign Ministry officials that the process to identify and repatriate them will be lengthy, after which families have begun to perform the last rites of their loved ones without their bodies.

Hundreds of Nepalis based in Russia for study and employment joined the Russian Army since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Most Nepalis who joined the Russian military and were lured to fight by prospects of earning as much as Rs400,000 a month, and eventual Russian citizenship after Russia relaxed immigration and citizenship procedures to recruit foreigners into their military.

Some young people in Nepal as well as Nepali migrants based in the Gulf have also left for Russia on student and tourist visas, lured by the promise of high pay. Smaller numbers of Nepalis have also been serving in the Ukrainian Army.  

Most young Nepali mercenaries have no prior combat prior training or experience. Families of Nepalis in Russia have said that they were sent to the frontlines with only a week’s worth of training, and were only getting one-fourth of the promised salary. Foreign recruits were told they would undergo a three-month training before being sent into combat. 

Many of them have realised that the realities of war are much different, and want to return home, one of the returnees said in a video interview earier this year. Families in Nepal have met with officials of the Foreign Ministry multiple times to bring their loved ones back home from the frontlines in Ukraine. 

In October, a Nepali mercenary fighting with the Russian Army was captured in the Avdiivka by Ukrainian forces. A video posted on X by Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, shows Bibek Khatri of Bardia stating that he joined the Russian military to make money and make his mother proud. There is no word about his present whereabouts.

Read also: Nepali soldier captured in Ukraine, Nepali Times

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