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Somali combatant surrenders to Ukrainian forces, alleges abuse in Russian army


Saturday January 13, 2024

 
Detained Somali national, Mohamed Adil, seen zip-tied and wearing Russian-issued winter military fatigues, following his surrender to Ukrainian forces near Donetsk. Credit: OBOZREVATEL

London (HOL) - Ukrainian armed forces have reportedly apprehended a Somali combatant in Ukraine's Donetsk region. The detainee, identified as Mohamed Adil from Somalia, was found with a Somali passport and had limited proficiency in Russian or Ukrainian. Adil's surrender sheds light on the composition of forces involved in the conflict, highlighting his voluntary surrender and offering a unique insight into the war from the perspective of a mercenary.

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Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, shared via social media that Adila, alongside several Russian soldiers, surrendered near Avdiivka. 

Adil's surrender echoes a disturbing trend first reported by the BBC earlier in December, suggesting Russian efforts to lure unsuspecting migrants with expired Finnish visas into military service in Ukraine. 

A Somali migrant told the BBC's Russian-language editorial unit that he signed such a contract with five other Somalis, five Arabs, and one Cuban national.

In response to the migrant situation, Finland recently extended its border closure with Russia until February 2024. 

In late December, Somali authorities facilitated the return of 16 Somali migrants detained in Russian prisons.

According to Roman Bochkala, a Ukrainian volunteer and military correspondent, Adila surrendered while fighting in the Donetsk region along with other foreign nationals, including at least three servicemen from India within the 3rd Mechanized Brigade.

Adil told Bochkala that his group did not receive language training and suffered abuse and humiliation based on ethnic and racial differences.

Adila's experience is a microcosm of a broader issue in the Ukraine conflict – the use of foreign mercenaries. It mirrors past incidents where individuals, often under coercive circumstances, find themselves embroiled in a foreign conflict. For instance, Tanzanian student Nemes Raymond Tarimo and Zambian national Lemekhani Nyirenda were both reportedly coerced into fighting for the Wagner Group in Ukraine.

 



 





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