President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Russia Refutes Claims of Recruiting Nigerian Students for Ukraine Conflict

By Lami Victor, Kaduna

The Russian Embassy in Nigeria has firmly denied accusations of coercing African students, particularly Nigerians, into joining the ongoing war in Ukraine in exchange for visa extensions.

This denial comes in response to a Bloomberg report that claimed Russia was attempting to enlist thousands of migrants and foreign students to bolster its military forces in Ukraine, using methods similar to those of the Wagner mercenary group.

European officials alleged that the Kremlin threatened not to extend visas for African students and young workers unless they agreed to join the military.

Yevgeny Primakov, Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, an organisation dedicated to promoting Russian culture and education abroad, estimated that there are currently between 35,000 and 37,000 African students in Russia.

The Russian Embassy has dismissed these reports as fake news and completely baseless, highlighting the potential harm such misinformation could cause to educational cooperation between Russia and Nigeria.

The embassy praised the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Association of Nigerian Students in Moscow for debunking these false claims and reaffirmed its commitment to fostering friendly relations and cooperation with Nigeria.

In a statement, the embassy said, “The Embassy of the Russian Federation emphasises that such news is not only false but also damages Russian-Nigerian educational cooperation by misleading numerous scholarship and grant applicants, as well as their partners, who could be extremely concerned by such fakes.”

The statement continued, “The Embassy states that Nigerian students face no difficulties in extending their visas while continuing their studies in Russia. Numerous associations of Nigerian students in Russia have not reported any issues in obtaining the necessary documentation to continue their stay in the country.”

The embassy expressed gratitude for the efforts of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Association of Nigerian Students in Moscow in debunking the false claims.

“The Embassy welcomes the official press release of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this matter and expresses gratitude to the Ministry and the Association of Nigerian Students in Moscow for their efforts in debunking the fake news aimed at undermining the friendship and cooperation between Russia and Nigeria.”

The embassy also reaffirmed its dedication to maintaining and strengthening the educational and cultural ties between Russia and Nigeria, emphasising the importance of truth and cooperation in international relations.

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