Foiled by Finland, Moscow accused of sending migrants to fight in Ukraine upon promise of work permits

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

African and Middle Eastern migrants who failed to breach the Finnish border from Russia are being offered work permits by Moscow on one condition — that they fight on the front line in Ukraine for a year.

According to the BBC’s Russian Service, the Kremlin is seeking to repurpose the migrants it is accused of allowing into Russia only to facilitate a mass influx of asylum seekers on the European Union’s external border.

A report by the broadcaster claims that after Finland closed its border with Russia, the Russian authorities detained large numbers of migrants they are now seeking to deport. However, many have been offered the chance to stay in the country if they fight on the front line and it is understood that some have signed Russian-language contracts agreeing to the terms without fully understanding what they were signing up for.

BBC journalists in Moscow have been in contact with several migrants, including a Somali national who was detained and stood trial the following day for illegal entry into Russia. He was handed a negligible €20 fine but, more significantly, was sent to a detention center until such a time that deportation was possible.

After six days, he was approached by authorities who offered him an opportunity to have his deportation order revoked, provided he “worked for the state”.

“We asked what kind of work it would be, they said it was simple and good,” the Somali national told the broadcaster.

He signed the papers without reading them as they were only available in Russian and he did not speak the language. He and several others were subsequently transferred to a military camp on the border with Ukraine.

“We were told that there would be a contract for one year, with training and different options, with a good salary and medicine. But they didn’t say anything about the Ukrainian border and the war. Everything we were told was a lie,” the migrant said.

The testimony is supported by recently published Ukrainian government data which showed that 254 foreign citizens have been identified as having fought and died for the Russian state.

Earlier this month, six Nepalese citizens were found dead in Ukraine, while other citizens of Iraq, Zambia, and Tajikistan have also been confirmed as being killed in action.

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