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SL Collaborates with Russia to Prevent Trafficked Ex-Servicemen from Being Sent to Battlefront

May 31, Colombo (LNW): State Foreign Affairs Minister Tharaka Balasuriya announced yesterday that the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry is working with Russian authorities to prevent trafficked Sri Lankan ex-servicemen from being deployed to the battlefront. As of yesterday, all males visiting Russia on a visit visa must possess a no-objection letter from the Defence Ministry to obtain a visa.

At a joint press conference with Russian Ambassador in Colombo, Levan Dzhagaryan, Balasuriya stated that a Sri Lankan delegation will visit Russia on June 5 to address this issue with Russian authorities. Discussions will focus on ensuring that Sri Lankans are not sent to the battlefront.

Balasuriya emphasized that Sri Lankan officials are striving to repatriate those who wish to return from Russia. He revealed that job agencies have trafficked ex-servicemen to Russia with promises of higher wages and Russian citizenship, leading many to take loans or sell possessions to fund their journey.

Some individuals traveled to Russia via Dubai and India. The government has received over 455 complaints about ex-servicemen being sent to the warfront in Russia, with 16 reported missing and 26 repatriated after seeking help from the Sri Lankan mission in Moscow.

Balasuriya noted the difficulty in determining the exact number of Sri Lankans on the warfront or the total fatalities. He acknowledged that the number of missing, injured, or deployed ex-servicemen might be higher.

These individuals entered Russia under various pretexts, making it challenging to prevent their legal entry. Balasuriya clarified that the conflict is not in Russia but in Ukraine, complicating the situation further.

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