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JOINING THE ACTION

Why do many Indians want to join Ukraine’s fight against Russia?

Ukrainian serviceman stands near captured Russian tanks in the north of the Kharkiv region
Irina Rybakova/Press service of the Ukrainian Ground Forces/Handout via Reuters
Standing guard.
  • Manavi Kapur
By Manavi Kapur

Reporter

Published

An Indian student in Ukraine has joined the military pushback against Russia. Reports say there are many others in the queue.

Sainikhesh Ravichandran, a 21-year-old student from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is, according to a report in The Kyiv Independent, now a part of the International Legion. The paramilitary force of volunteers has been put together by president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government to fight Russian forces.

The Kyiv Independent reported yesterday (March 8) that individuals from the UK, US, Lithuania, Sweden, and India have joined the force. The Zelenskyy government has created a website for volunteers to sign up, and, according to Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, nearly 20,000 foreign nationals from 52 countries already had by March 6. Officially, India has a neutral position in the war, calling for peace on either side.

For India’s Ravichandran, a student of the National Aerospace University in Kharkiv, joining the International Legion has been a long-time dream come true, even if it means breaking the law in India.

Who is Sainikhesh Ravichandran?

The young student traces his roots back to Coimbatore, a large city in Tamil Nadu. His LinkedIn profile shows that he joined the institute in Kharkiv in 2018.

With him going incommunicado after the war broke out, Ravichandran’s parents reached out to the Indian embassy in Ukraine, The News Minute reported. They also alerted officials of their suspicion that their son may have joined the Ukrainian forces.

These suspicions arose from the fact that Ravichandran always had a passion for the military, the police said. He wanted to join the Indian Army, but was rejected twice as he wasn’t tall enough, The News Minute reported. A team of India’s central bureau of investigation has now visited the parents.

Indian law forbids its citizens from participating in military action in other countries.

Other Indians want to join Ukraine

Yet, up to 500 Indian citizens, including defence services veterans, have signed up to join the International Legion, unnamed Indian diplomatic sources told The Hindu newspaper yesterday (March 8).

India has also objected to a tweet by the Ukrainian embassy in Delhi, which put out a call for Indians to join the International Legion in its fight against Russia. The legion, through the embassy’s Twitter thread, had said that it had received reports of hundreds of Indians looking to join the force.

The tweet was later deleted after the Indian government contacted the embassy, the Economic Times newspaper reported yesterday (March 8).

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