Al Jazeera :
They were lured by the promise of $3,000 pay cheques and Russian citizenship. Now they’re trapped, wounded or dead.
Kathmandu, Nepal – On a bitterly cold morning in early January, somewhere near Tokmak city in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, Bimal Bhandari* began a risky journey to desert the Russian army he had been serving with. The 32-year-old Nepali national was with another compatriot who also was fighting for the Kremlin, in and against Ukraine.
The two men knew that getting away from the Russians would be a dangerous task, but they concluded that the risk was worth it, when weighed against their chances of survival as soldiers in Moscow’s savage war.
Bhandari was in touch with a Nepali agent in Russia through a relative. The agent and another people smuggler promised that they could design an escape plan: For $3000 each, the two Nepali soldiers would be out. Three days after Bhandari and his friend shared their location, a man who spoke Hindi came with a driver and vehicle at the crack of dawn, picked them up and dropped them at an unknown spot that the traffickers claimed was near the Russian-Ukraine border.