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Fierce Gurkhas joining Russia’s private Wagner mercenary army

The defense analysts considering India's Agnipath recruitment scheme and citizenship incentives abroad are the main factors contributing to this new trend of Gurkhas joining foreign armies.

Kathmandu, Nepal, June 28: The Nepali Gurkhas, who are considered as fierce warriors, are reportedly joining Wagner group, Russia’s private mercenary army.

The same group made headlines recently for their revolt against President Vladimir Putin.

The surge in Gurkha enlistment follows a change in Russian citizenship regulations, which now offer easier access to citizenship after one year of military service.

The Diplomat has reported that hundreds of Nepali youths, including retired Nepal Army personnel, have already signed contracts to serve as soldiers in the Russian forces.

Social media platforms have been flooded with videos and images showcasing Nepali Gurkha youth training with modern weapons in preparation for their deployment as Russian mercenaries.

Furthermore, some reports suggest that many Nepali youth have already been enrolled into the Ukrainian army, tempted by promises of good financial benefits and the prospect of post-war citizenship in European nations.

This trend of international recruitment has been ongoing since the onset of the Ukraine war, with both sides actively seeking foreign personnel.

Why Gurkhas Joining Russian Mercenary Group?

According to Defense analysts, a main factor behind the Gurkhas’ enrollment in the Wagner group is the Agnipath scheme implemented by the Indian government for future army recruitments.

This scheme resulted in the termination of long-term employment and the introduction of shorter contract tenures without pensions for soldiers serving in the Indian Army.

In response, Nepal halted the 200-year-old recruitment process until greater clarity was achieved.

Various reports suggest that frustrated Gurkha youths, who once aspired to join the prestigious Gurkha regiment of the Indian army, have sought opportunities in different armed forces worldwide, including those of Russia and China.

In an effort to attract mercenaries, Russia has extended several benefits traditionally reserved for its own soldiers to the Wagner Group.

Wagner, known for recruiting irregular forces such as convicts and foreign nationals, counts individuals from Baltic, Nordic, and Asian countries among its ranks.

Notably, Russia no longer requires foreign recruits to possess proficiency in the Russian language.

The Gurkhas, having served in the British colonial army and being sought after by countries like India, France, and Singapore, are renowned as exceptional warriors.

Their growing enlistment in other forces represents a significant loss especially for India and Nepal.

“The situation is a cause for concern, as the Nepali government is unable to intervene since these individuals have joined on an individual basis,” commented retired Major General Binoj Basnyat, a strategic analyst from the Nepal Army, in an interview with the EurAsian Times.

Following the recent mutiny within the Wagner Group, its mercenaries are now returning to their base after President Putin granted their leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, exile in Belarus to evade treason charges.

Analysts suggest that the addition of Gurkhas to the Wagner Group could provide a tactical advantage, given their expertise in one-on-one combat—a skill that many Russian fighters lack.

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