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Nepal calls on Russia not to deploy its Gurkhas in Ukraine war

Nepal calls on Russia not to deploy its Gurkhas in Ukraine war

Nepal has called on Russia to stop sending its Gurkha soldiers to fight on the frontline in Ukraine after a series of losses sparked anger back home.

The Nepali government said six soldiers serving in the Russian military have died in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine since February 2022, Nepali prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said.

"The government of Nepal has requested the Russian government to immediately return their bodies and pay compensation to their families," the foreign ministry said late on Monday.

Nepal’s foreign ministry said that diplomatic efforts were underway for the release of one Nepali soldier from the Ukrainian army following his capture while fighting in the Russian army, the statement added.

The Gurkhas have long been known for their bravery and fighting skills on the battlefield, serving in the British and Indian armies under an agreement between the three countries since the independence of India in 1947.

The Himalayan state, which is wedged between India and China, has no such agreement with Russia.

Between 150 and 200 Nepalis are believed to have been working as mercenaries in the Russian army since the start of the war, said Milan Raj Tuladhar, Nepal‘s ambassador to Moscow, according to The Kathmandu Post.

“We are sending those who come [in] contact [with us] back to Nepal, telling them about the high risks associated with joining the Russian army,” Mr Tuladhar said.

The ambassador said that young Nepalis are being lured to fight in the war with attractive financial offers, and are effectively being trafficked into Russia.

“We have been sending back at least one Nepali national a day. They were all brought to Russia to serve in the army,” he said.

“If the individual does not possess a Nepali passport, we issue a travel document and send him back to Nepal.”

Nepal’s foreign ministry has urged its citizens not to join the army of any third country outside of its existing international agreements, and demanded Moscow return its nationals.

The bodies of two Nepali soldiers, Rupak Karki and Sandip Thapaliya, have already been buried after they were killed around mid-July this year while others are still in the mortuary, the report said.

It comes as Mr Putin has set his sights on boosting his ground troops capacity in Ukraine and signed a decree last week to increase recruitment by nearly 170,000 to reach a total of 1.32 million, as Russia suffers record losses in its 22-month-long war.

Russia’s campaign to attract more voluntary recruits has included advertisements promising cash bonuses, cold calls to eligible men by recruiters, and partnerships with universities and social service agencies to attract students and the unemployed across Russia.