Russia sending Nigerians, other African students to fight war In Ukraine for Visa renewal

Monday, June 10, 2024 
-For now though, his forces have been grinding forward only slowly in northeastern Ukraine and suffering heavy losses, despite a shortage of troops and ammunition on the Ukrainian side.

 The Russian military lost more than 1,200 people a day during May, according to the UK Ministry of Defence, its highest casualty rate of the war. Since the beginning of the invasion, Russia has seen some 500,000 personnel killed or wounded, the UK estimates. Bloomberg is unable to independently verify these figures.

 At a meeting with foreign media in St. Petersburg late Wednesday, Putin appeared to imply that about 10,000 Russian troops a month are being killed or wounded and that Ukrainian losses are five times higher.

 While the Kremlin has failed to achieve a breakthrough on the battlefield, it has stepped up a bombing campaign against Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Western officials say those attacks appear designed to make the city uninhabitable.

As he seeks to maintain public support in Russia, Putin has so far resisted a full-scale mobilisation and Russia says it has been able to make up a significant share of its losses — in terms of numbers if not the standard of the troops — through a voluntary recruitment drive that has attracted tens of thousands of people.

The government in Kathmandu said earlier this year that it is aware of about 400 young Nepali men who have been recruited by Russia but many more have likely signed up without the government knowing. India’s decision to stop recruiting Nepalese Gurkhas for its army, ending a 200-year-old tradition, may have encouraged Nepalis to look for work in Russia and elsewhere.

A senior Ukrainian official said they have seen an uptick in the number of foreign fighters among the prisoners Ukraine has captured on the battlefield. Africans and Nepalis have been particularly common, they said.

Some of Ukraine’s allies have been considering sharing what they know with the affected countries, another European official said.

Group of Seven nations, who will hold a leaders’ summit in Italy next week, have been trying to persuade countries from the so-called Global South to offer more support to Ukraine. But many of those nations have instead remained neutral, while their populations have been a focus for Moscow’s disinformation efforts.

Reuters reported last year that the mercenary group Wagner had recruited several African citizens as part of a drive to enlist convicts from Russian prisons for its forces in Ukraine. The news agency traced the story of three men from Tanzania, Zambia and the Ivory Coast.

There are 35,000-37,000 African students currently in Russia, according to Yevgeny Primakov head of Rossotrudnichestvo, an organization devoted to spreading knowledge about Russia abroad.

“Every year we sign up about 6,500 students from Africa to study in Russia for free,” he said on Thursday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

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