India presses Russia to send back its citizens from war zone after two more die

India presses Russia to send back its citizens from war zone after two more die

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday said it has been pressing Russia to ensure the safety and repatriation of its nationals employed by the Russian Army.

The comments by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra came a day after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said two more Indians serving with the Russian military were killed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

This has taken the number of Indians killed in the war zone to four.

"Since the first day, we have constantly been discussing this matter with the Russian authorities, the system and the leadership," Kwatra said.

"All of our efforts are aimed at keeping the Indians safe," he said at a media briefing while responding to a question on the matter.

"We have clearly told the Russian officials that all Indians in the war zone, howsoever they got there is another matter, should be returned (to India)," he said.

Confirming the deaths of the two Indians, the MEA on Tuesday said India has strongly taken up the matter with Russia and sought early release and return of all Indian nationals who are with the Russian Army.

In a strongly-worded statement, it said India has demanded that there be a "verified stop to any further recruitment of Indian nationals by the Russian Army" and that such activities would not be in "consonance with our partnership".

The foreign secretary said New Delhi has taken the issue very seriously.

The government has taken immediate action on receiving information about "Indians in the war zone".

"We have contacted their families, examined how the individual reached (Russia), and asked Russian authorities to respond and this will continue," he said.

In March, 30-year-old Hyderabad resident Mohammed Asfan succumbed to injuries sustained while serving with Russian troops on the frontlines with Ukraine.

In February, Hemal Ashwinbhai Mangua, a 23-year-old resident of Surat in Gujarat, died in a Ukrainian air strike while serving as a "security helper" in the Donetsk region.

A total of 10 Indians working as support staff with the Russian military have been released and repatriated to India, according to officials.

According to reports, around 200 Indian nationals were recruited as security helpers in the Russian military.