Nepali citizens are joining the Russian Army as Moscow has relaxed citizenship requirements to attract foreign fighters for the Ukraine war.
Videos of Nepali citizens undergoing military training in Russia and Belarus have recently been posted on social media platforms such as TikTok, Telegram, and YouTube.
Investigative journalism group Bellingcat geolocated the footage of eight such TikTok accounts to the Avangard military complex west of Moscow and at a station in the Belarusian city of Baranavichy.
For a Better Salary
A Nepali man Nepal Press spoke to revealed that he joined the Russian Army after finishing his studies at a Russian state university.
“After finishing my studies, I had two options. First was to remain unemployed after returning to Nepal, and second was to join the Russian Army,” the unnamed man from the country’s Koshi province told the outlet.
He explained that “good physical fitness” allowed him to apply for the army at the end of May and be selected.
The young man is undergoing training near the Ukraine border and told the outlet that over a dozen Nepali citizens are also being trained at the undisclosed site with foreign citizens from Belarus and African countries.
“We are being taught how to use modern weapons. Training takes place throughout the day and sometimes even at night,” the man revealed.
He added that he is being paid the equivalent of 50,000 Nepalese rupees ($381) plus insurance during the training.
No Language Barrier in Training
A retired Nepali Army soldier told Nepal Press that he went to Russia from Dubai, where he was working as a security guard.
“Later, friends told me that there is a job opportunity in the Russian Army. So I went to Russia as a tourist, which was easy as there were direct flights between Russia and Dubai,” he said.
The man from the northern Nepali province of Karnali said he’s currently training in an unknown mountainous region with around 200 foreign trainees, including three from Nepal.
He stated earlier that he was contemplating joining the French Army. However, the process is very long and difficult. He added that knowing Russian is not compulsory for the training, and that knowing English is sufficient.
Russia is reportedly recruiting soldiers from around the world, including from Afghanistan.
Russian recruiters reportedly contacted some former Afghan commandos on messaging apps with offers to join the Russian “foreign legion” to fight in Ukraine.
Relaxation of Citizenship Requirement
The Russian president signed a decree in September last year reducing the duration of military service required for a foreign soldier serving in the Russian military to apply for Russian citizenship.
According to the decree, which was passed into law in May, a foreign contract soldier and his family members can apply for Russian citizenship after one year of service compared to the previous three.
The applicant also does not require a residence permit.