Three Nepalis in Russian army killed, says embassy

Bibek Khatri, a Nepali youth from Bardiya, has also posted a video on social media appealing for his release from the captivity of Ukrainian forces.

November 29, 2023 12:53 pm

Bibek Khatri from Bardiya
Bibek Khatri from Bardiya

By Anil Giri

Kathmandu: Three Nepali youths serving in the Russian Army have recently been killed, the Nepali Embassy in Moscow has confirmed.

They died during the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Nepali Ambassador to Russia Milan Raj Tuladhar told the Post over the phone from the Russian capital. They were reportedly killed in an explosion.

The Nepali Embassy in Moscow, in its communication to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that it has information that three Nepali citizens hailing from Syangja, Dolakha and Ilam districts have been killed in the war with Ukraine and it was working to verify the details with relevant Russian authorities. They were killed on November 15.

The Nepali Embassy in Moscow on November 24 wrote to the Department of Consular Affairs informing them about the deaths of three Nepali nationals and provided the death certificates. The embassy also called for establishing contact with the families of the deceased in order to facilitate the repatriation of the bodies.

The Russian authorities sent the death certificates of three Nepalis through telegram, according to the November 24 letter.

The Russian Army allegedly kept them as assistants or possibly as mercenaries, according to reports. “We are trying to establish contact with the families of the deceased. Further details will be provided later,” said ambassador Tuladhar. “They died during the ongoing battle between Russia and Ukraine.”

Tuladhar added, “It is said that they were killed in a war zone in an explosion. Their bodies have yet to be found. We have sought details from the Russian side. And we are also trying to secure compensation for the families of the deceased.”

But officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they are unable to give details of the deceased Nepalis.

“It is an emotional issue and until all the details are gathered and the families of the deceased are informed, it would be unfair to share information with the media,” said Tuladhar. “We will share more details on the status of Nepalis serving in the Russian Army later.”

Foreign Minister NP Saud told the Post that the government is currently collecting information from the Nepali Embassy in Russia, Russian Embassy in Kathmandu, and other sources, and will make the details available later.

Saud would neither confirm nor deny the three deaths.

“We have already asked the Nepali Embassy in Moscow to provide details of the casualties and other related information. Once they are established and verified, we will release the information,” said Saud.

It is believed that around 200 Nepalis are currently serving in the Russian Army in different capacities despite the government’s request not to risk lives there. Similarly, according to foreign ministry officials, some Nepali youths are also serving in the Ukrainian Army, but their exact number is not known. Earlier, several videos circulating on social media showed Nepali youths serving in Russian and Ukrainian armies. The videos claimed they could earn up to Rs400,000 a month.

On August 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement and urged Nepali citizens not to join foreign armies in war-torn countries.

“The attention of the ministry has been drawn to the news that Nepali citizens have joined the foreign armies in social networking sites,” said the statement. “The policy of the Nepal government does not allow Nepali citizens to join foreign armies except for the fact that Nepali citizens are being recruited in the national armies of some friendly countries as per the traditional agreement reached between Nepal and those countries.”

Nepal only allows recruitment in the Indian and British Army in line with bilateral agreements with the respective countries.

In the statement, the ministry also requested one and all not to engage in security-related work in war-torn countries based on false information.

The ministry warned that there is risk involved in such activities and rescue would be difficult.

Russia has paved the way for recruiting foreign nationals in its army following a decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin in May.

A Nepali youth from Bardiya, Bibek Khatri, who is reportedly serving in the Russian Army, has also posted a video on social media saying he was captured by Ukrainian forces and requested for his safe release.

Last month, Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, posted a video that claimed Khatri was taken prisoner by Ukrainian Armed Forces near Avdiivka.

“He signed a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense and served in one of the Russian Airborne Forces brigades,” Gerashchenlo wrote on X. “Khatri openly admitted that he went to war to kill Ukrainians solely for the sake of money.”

Khatri’s family has also requested the government of Nepal for his safe rescue.

“I wanted to return to my mother as a successful man,” Khatri says in the video posted by Gerashchenko.

Anil Giri is a reporter covering diplomacy, international relations and national politics for The Kathmandu Post. Giri has been working as a journalist for a decade-and-a-half, contributing to numerous national and international media outlets.

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