Two Indians recruited by Russia killed in Ukraine

This photograph taken on September 10, 2022 shows Russian military vehicles in Balakliya, Kharkiv region
Dozens of Indians have reportedly been duped by agents into fighting for Russian forces inside Ukraine [Getty Images]

India says two of its nationals who had been recruited by the Russian army have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The Indian foreign ministry said it had urged the Russian authorities to repatriate the bodies of the two deceased.

The ministry has also urged Moscow to quickly release and return all Indian nationals who are with the Russian army.

Moscow is yet to comment.

Dozens of Indians have reportedly been duped by agents into fighting for Russian forces with the lure of money and a Russian passport. The BBC has spoken to some of them.

Some said they were coerced into taking up combat roles in the Russian army.

Others have also enlisted of their own accord.

"We regret to state that two Indian nationals who had been recruited by the Russian Army have recently been killed in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine," the foreign ministry statement said, without naming the victims.

The ministry also urged Indian nationals to "exercise caution while seeking employment opportunities in Russia".

In May Indian police arrested four people allegedly linked to a network of human traffickers on suspicion of luring young men to Russia with the promise of jobs or education, only to force them to fight in Ukraine.

At least two other Indians died earlier this year while fighting for Russian forces.

Despite urging Russia to return Indian nationals serving in the Russian army, India has refused to condemn the Kremlin over its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, urging the two sides to seek peace through dialogue and diplomacy.

Meanwhile Nepal and Sri Lanka have warned their citizens not to be lured in by the false promises of human traffickers in recent months, after it emerged that hundreds of their nationals were taking part in the war as mercenaries.

Kathmandu says at least 20 Nepalese have died fighting for Russia.

At least 16 former Sri Lankan soldiers have been killed in the conflict so far, most of them for the Russian army.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry raised the issue with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday, the ministry said.

It was agreed that "no further recruitment from Sri Lanka will be done", the ministry said.