• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Russia threatens African students to join military or face deportation

Russia threatens African students to join military or face deportation

Russia is forcefully recruiting foreign workers and African students into its military to strengthen its war against Ukraine.

Bloomberg reported that the Kremlin is pushing thousands of migrants and foreign students to join its troops in Kharkiv Oblast, where it launched a new offensive a month ago or face deportation, according to anonymous European officials.

Moscow troops had made advancement in Kharkiv before Ukraine’s forces broke apart their offense near the first line of defense.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president officially announced on June 10 that Russian troops had failed their Kharkiv Oblast offensive.

To win back the position, Russian officials have been threatening African students and visa workers with deportation asking them to join the military for a chance at visa extension, tactics similar to the Russian Wagner mercenary group.

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.

Nigerians and Africans on work visas “have been detained and forced to decide between deportation or fighting,” an anonymous European official told Bloomberg.

“Some of those people had been able to bribe officials to stay in the country and still avoid military service,” they said.

Many who are not so fortunate are sent into the war under duress. These troops reportedly suffer high casualties due to lack of experience or training against more experienced units, the official said.

This is not the first reported case of prisoners, migrants, and foreign nationals being coerced into the Russian military.

Last September, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported that Russia was stepping up its campaign to recruit foreigners in neighbouring countries and exploit migrant workers for its war against Ukraine.

The decision will allow the Kremlin to “acquire additional personnel for its war effort in the face of mounting casualties,” the ministry said.

A senior Ukrainian official reported seeing an increase in the number of foreign soldiers among their captured prisoners, identifying Africans and Nepalis as majority.

African enrolment to Russia

Yevgeny Primakov head of Rossotrudnichestvo, an organisation committed to strengthening Russia’s influence overseas stated that there are 35,000 to 37,000 African students in Russia.

In 2022 alone, over 1,500 Nigerians enrolled in Russian higher institutions, the second highest after Morocco with a little over 2,000 students.

Despite its involvement in an enduring war against bordering Ukraine and the international isolation that followed, the appeal for Russian education continues to record steady figures.

Russia’s foreign enrolment reached a high of 351,500 students in 2022, with majority coming from former Soviet republics, Asia and Africa.

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

These students are now faced with the daunting option of bearing arms to support the country’s fight 4,277 km away or get sent back to their countries.