India urges Russia to return its citizens recruited by Russia's army after 2 were killed

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Wednesday said it had urged Russia to return Indian citizens recruited by Russia's army after two were killed recently in the war in Ukraine.

“I want to assure you that the Indian government has taken the matter very seriously,” foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters.

On Tuesday night, India's foreign ministry said it was in touch with Russian authorities to arrange the repatriation of the two Indians' remains. Two other Indians died earlier this year while fighting in Ukraine.

India has avoided voting against Russia at the United Nations or criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. India considers Russia a time-tested ally from the Cold War era with cooperation in defense, oil, nuclear energy and space exploration.

India previously said its authorities were in talks with Russia about the return of its citizens who it said had been duped into working for the Russian army. Its federal investigation agency said it had broken up a human trafficking network that lured people to Russia under the pretext of giving them jobs, with at least 35 Indians being sent via agents.

Sri Lanka and Russia held talks last month to resolve the issue of Sri Lankans fighting alongside Russians in the war against Ukraine, after at least 16 were reported missing in action. The South Asian island nation said its citizens had been duped into traveling to Russia with promises of good salaries and perks including Russian citizenship.

Nepal in January asked Russia to send back hundreds of Nepali nationals who were recruited to fight against Ukraine. At least 14 Nepali nationals have died in Ukraine.

The Associated Press