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Sri Lanka to send high-level delegation to Moscow to look into its citizens joining Russian military

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NewsDrum Desk
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Colombo, May 16 (PTI) Sri Lanka on Thursday said it will send a high-level delegation to Russia to look into the issue of its retired soldiers joining the Russian military at the Ukrainian war front.

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The development comes a day after the Sri Lankan defence ministry admitted at least 16 retired military personnel have been killed in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

“President Ranil Wickremesinghe has instructed to send a team comprising the Defence Secretary, a Foreign Ministry official and a former Sri Lankan diplomat to Russia to look into the Sri Lankans who have joined the Russian military in the Ukrainian war front,” State Minister of Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya was quoted as saying by news portal Adaderana.lk.

An emergency hotline number of the Ministry of Defence is currently in operation to collect the information of Sri Lankan nationals, who have travelled to Russia to join the war, Balasuriya told a press briefing.

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On Wednesday, State Minister for Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon said that 16 Sri Lankan retired military personnel have been killed in the Russia-Ukraine war.

The Sri Lankan mercenaries had joined the Russian and Ukrainian forces after unscrupulous foreign employment agencies misled them in the name of foreign employment, according to police.

Tennakoon had said that plans are being made to bring back Sri Lankans who are currently in Russia and Ukraine.

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“The figure according to the information received so far is 288,” Tennakoon said, adding, “The government would take action to bring them back as complaints have been received from their relatives.” Tennakoon also hinted that it was a human trafficking operation where former servicemen go through a third country to reach the war front and said, last week, Sri Lanka had opened an inquiry into the recruitment of its citizens for the conflict.

Meanwhile, the news portal further said that the Lankan government is also in talks with both the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministries to track down Sri Lankans in the two countries and bring them back safely.

Sri Lanka has repeatedly warned its citizens against travelling to Russia or Ukraine to join the fighting. PTI NPK ZH NPK NPK

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