‘Russian military recruiting African exchange students’

Exchange students studying in Russia are being mobilised by their host universities to fight in the war against Ukraine, several media outlets report. They are receiving military training on campus.

photo ShU studio / Shutterstock

Times Higher Education and several other publications write that the recruitment of African exchange students is becoming increasingly common, with host universities playing an important role.

For instance, the Southern Federal University in the city of Rostov-on-Don, near Ukraine, is said to have recruited 2,500 African exchange students. The university threatened to revoke their scholarships and raise their tuition fees if they refused to take up arms. The students, many of whom are in a financially precarious situation, were allegedly offered sums of up to 4,000 dollars to join up.

To the front

In November, the first exchange student was killed in the Donbas during a battle against Ukrainian forces. According to Times Higher Education, the student in question was a 23-year-old Zambian national who two years ago was still studying nuclear engineering in Moscow. He was arrested for unspecified reasons and sentenced to nine years in prison. While serving his sentence, he was forced to enlist in the army, after which he was immediately sent to the front.

Training centres

Under the current partial mobilisation, Russian students and exchange students up to the age of 27 are not subject to a mandatory draft, but are allowed to sign up for military service voluntarily. Some 100 university campuses are now said to have opened military training centres where new recruits are prepared for combat.

Many Russian universities are helping to spread President Vladimir Putin’s war propaganda, forcing students to attend lectures and firing critical academics.

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