Sri Lanka Seeks Talks on Ex-Military In Russia

Sri Lankan Delegation to Russia: Urgent Talks on Ex-Military Trafficked to War Zone

by Zulfick Farzan 30-05-2024 | 3:21 PM

COLOMBO (News 1st); A Sri Lankan delegation is hoping to visit Russia between June 5-7 to discuss the issue of Sri Lankan military personnel involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, said State Foreign Affairs Minister Tharaka Balasuriya.

He said that Sri Lanka has formally requested for appointments with the Russia Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.

However, he said that efforts being made by Sri Lanka would be futile, if the appointments are not received.

Sri Lankan authorities have received approximately 445 complaints with regard to retired military personnel being trafficked to Russia to take part in the war against Ukraine.

State Foreign Affairs Minister Tharaka Balasuriya speaking to reporters in Colombo on Thursday (30) said that the figure of retired Sri Lankan military personnel smuggled overseas is likely to be higher than the number of complaints that have been received.

Speaking alongside the Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, the State Minister said that most of the ex-servicemen had obtained a visit visa, and used five separate routes via India and the Middle East, to reach Russia.

"They have been duped by certain nefarious agents, and some of these people have been arrested," said the State Minister, adding that those who were sent to Russia were promised certain salaries, privileges, including citizenship etc.

"Given the economic circumstances in Sri Lanka, we witnessed similar situations when people went illegally to Dubai, and thereafter to Oman," he added.

The State Minister added that those who went to Russia were told that they would not be used for any military purposes, however, reports suggest that these personnel have been sent to the front lines.

He also said that some of the agents who sent Sri Lankan ex-servicemen to Russia, are retaining a large portion of the salaries before sending the money to the families back home.

He added that the government of Sri Lanka, through its embassy in Moscow, is engaging with the Russian government to secure the release of the former soldiers, and bring them back to the country.

The State Foreign Affairs Minister revealed that some of those who flew to Russia had obtained loans to pay for their air travel, while families are now unable to access the pensions given to the retired military personnel, as to obtain the money, the beneficiary should sign-in with the local Grama Seva Office every couple of months.

Going forward, a No-Objection letter will be required from the Ministry Of Defense for any military personnel who are traveling to Russia, and there will be strict scrutinization.

News 1st's Mariam Gunawijayah contributed to this report.