Russia-Ukraine war rages on second anniversary of invasion

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Ramchandra Khadka, from Nepal, is pictured in Bakhmut, Ukraine, where he was fighting for Russia. Ramchandra Khadka

Ramchandra Khadka, 37, recently returned to Nepal after suffering injuries on the front lines in the Russia-Ukraine war. He told CNN he regrets his decision to join the Kremlin’s army as a foreign mercenary.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is not the first battle Khadka has fought. He was among Nepal’s Maoist rebels, who fought a bloody war with the country’s forces for 10 years from the mid-1990s. He then went to Afghanistan after being hired by a private military contractor to assist NATO forces in the country. He thought he had experienced it all in his lifetime – bloodshed, death and pain. But, some 17 years after the Maoist war ended, with no hope of a job in Nepal, he decided to fly to Russia to join the country’s military for money.

“I didn’t join the Russian military for pleasure. I didn’t have any job opportunities in Nepal. But in hindsight, it wasn’t the right decision. We didn’t realize we would be sent to the frontlines that quickly and how horrible the situation would be,” Khadka said.

He arrived in Moscow in September last year. After only two weeks of training, he said, he was sent to the front lines in Bakhmut – a town in eastern Ukraine that saw some of the heaviest fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces – with a gun and a basic kit.

He is one of as many as 15,000 Nepali men to have joined the Russian military, multiple sources have told CNN, after the Russian government last year announced a lucrative package for foreign fighters to join the country’s military.

The package included at least $2,000 salary a month and a fast-tracked process to obtain a Russian passport.

A one-year contract is signed and the men get a Russian bank account, where at least $2,000 monthly salary is deposited. Many fighters say bonuses were also given – and the longer they stay on the front lines, the more bonuses they receive. Some say they made up to $4,000 a month. But many don’t know how to withdraw this money.


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