Home » Russia Pressures African Students, Migrants to Fight in Ukraine War

Russia Pressures African Students, Migrants to Fight in Ukraine War

Visa Renewal Coercion, High Casualties Among Drafted Fighters

by Victor Adetimilehin

European officials allege Russia is coercing African students and migrants into fighting in Ukraine to bolster its dwindling military force. According to Bloomberg’s report, thousands of migrants and foreign students have been threatened with visa revocation or deportation unless they agree to join the Russian military.

Some Africans in Russia with work visas have been detained and forced to choose between fighting or deportation. Those with money have reportedly bribed officials to avoid military service. This tactic mirrors that of the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary outfit that has been accused of war crimes.

Drafted Fighters Face High Casualties

A senior Ukrainian official said they have seen a rise in the number of captured foreign fighters, with Africans and Nepalis being particularly common. These coerced fighters are said to suffer disproportionately high casualties as they are often deployed in risky offensive maneuvers.

The Kremlin has denied these allegations. However, Russia has acknowledged a large number of casualties and President Putin himself suggested in a meeting that Russia might be suffering around 10,000 casualties per month.

The report also highlights Russia’s broader recruitment efforts across the globe. At least 21 countries, including several African nations, have been targeted. While Russia has focused on voluntary recruitment, some countries, like Nepal, have reported a rise in their citizens seeking work in Russia, possibly due to a lack of opportunities at home.

Desperate Measures for Dwindling Manpower

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dragged on for months, with Ukrainian forces putting up a stiff resistance. As a result, Russia is facing a manpower shortage. To address this, they have turned to increasingly desperate tactics, including the coercion of migrants and foreign students.

This pressure on African students is particularly concerning. There are an estimated 35,000 to 37,000 African students currently studying in Russia. These young people, who came to Russia to pursue their education, are now being caught in the middle of a war.

The international community has condemned Russia’s actions. Some European officials are considering sharing information with the affected countries, so that they can take steps to protect their citizens. The Group of Seven (G7) nations are also urging countries in the Global South to offer more support to Ukraine.

The coercion of migrants and students into military service is a violation of international law. It is also likely to damage Russia’s reputation in Africa and other parts of the world. Many African nations have remained neutral in the conflict, but this latest development could push them to side with Ukraine.

Uncertain Future for Coerced Fighters

The fate of the African students and migrants who are being forced to fight in Ukraine is uncertain. They face the very real possibility of death or serious injury on the battlefield. Even if they survive the war, they may be left with lasting physical and psychological trauma.

The pressure to fight for Russia is likely to continue as the war drags on. This raises serious concerns about the safety and well-being of African students and migrants in Russia.

The international community must take action to hold Russia accountable for its actions and to protect vulnerable populations.

Source: Punch


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