Creating new perspectives since 2009

Indians ‘duped’ into fighting for Russia, lured by false Dubai jobs

March 3, 2024 at 12:15 pm

This photo taken on February 22, 2024 shows a picture printout of Indian national Mohammed Asfan. [Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images]

Several Indian citizens have ended up unwittingly being recruited as mercenaries in the Russian army, having been promised jobs in Dubai by agents, only to end up fighting in Ukraine.

According to a report yesterday by The Telegraph, at least 20 rural workers from India were lured to the UAE by the promise of landing a job in Dubai, only to end up being transferred to Russia, again on the pretext of a similar role.

Relatives of one of the men, Azad Yousuf Kumar, 31, had travelled to the UAE last December, after being promised a housekeeping job by an agent, named Faisal Khan. The agent, who is also originally from India but lives in the Middle East, regularly posts such opportunities on his YouTube channel, Baba Vlogs.

Kumar’s family say they were shocked to learn he was recruited in the Russian army, after months without contact.

READ: India businessman frees 900 prisoners in UAE as pre-Ramadan gesture

“He said that he stayed in Sharjah for 16 days and later they were told there were no jobs in the UAE. Instead, he would be taken to Russia to work in the kitchen,” his mother Ms Begum was quoted as saying.

“He was immediately taken to a secret military base. For two weeks he and others were taught how to use guns and throw grenades,” she said, adding that Kumar was forced to sign a contract in Russian, a language he didn’t understand.

BBC News noted earlier in the week that when the Ukraine war broke out in 2022, reports emerged of a few Indians volunteering to join the Ukrainian army, however the presence of Indians on the Russian side in combat roles has been reported for the first time.

Although Indian sources in Russia claim only dozens of Indians have joined the Russian army, a Russian defence ministry source cited by The Hindu suggests that the actual number recruited in the past year is approximately 100.

READ: Israel military exports to top buyer India unaffected by Gaza war