Lanka Cracks Down on Racketeers Sending Soldiers to Ukraine


Gunaratne, a retired Major General, has urged the former soldiers not to be entrapped by human smugglers who send soldiers to the war front….reports Susitha Fernando

Sri Lanka’s Defence Ministry has revealed that a large number of the country’s ex-servicemen, who fought in the war against Tamil rebels, have now joined the mercenaries involved in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne admitted that a large number of ex-soldiers, who earlier fought in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for 26 years, have now been lured to join as mercenaries fighting for Russia.

Gunaratne, a retired Major General, has urged the former soldiers not to be entrapped by human smugglers who send soldiers to the war front.

“A group of fake agents are involved in a human smuggling racket to entice former servicemen to fight as mercenaries. They have been lured with many false promises, including getting them enlisted to Russian and Ukrainian official armies, awarding properties from cities like St. Petersburg, citizenships to family members and lucrative monthly salaries ranging from Sri Lankan Rs one million to nearly Rs 1.9 million,” the Defence Secretary said.

He added that despite many promises, the former army men have not received anything.

“However, a large number of former Sri Lankan servicemen who were tricked have gone to the Russian-Ukraine warfront and a section had already died while many others got wounded,” Gunaratne said.

He added that there is no information about the dead and wounded.

“The Defence and Foreign ministries are trying their best to find out about these men as they were enlisted as mercenaries and did not join the official armies,” he said.

Gunaratne urged the former Lankan soldiers not to get involved in the Russia-Ukraine war, which could result in them going missing or killed.

The Defence Secretary said that criminal investigations by military and police intelligence units have already begun against human smugglers and companies involved in recruiting and sending ex-servicemen to the warzone and several arrests have also been made.

“Severe legal action will be taken against these racketeers,” the Defence Secretary added.

Last year, many Lankan ex-servicemen, who were fighting with the Ukrainian army, were reportedly killed during the Russian drone attacks.

Lawmaker Gamini Waleboda had announced in Parliament that, according to the information received, most of these former soldiers and laymen sent to the Russia-Ukraine war have died.

Several media reports have revealed the severe hardships being faced by the Lankans who are involved in the Russia-Ukraine war.

The Sri Lankan military increased during the war against the LTTE, which ended in 2009 and, according to the World Bank data, it peaked between 2017 and 2019 with 317,000 military personnel, twice the size of the UK’s regular forces.

However, with the country undergoing its worst-ever financial crisis, the government has decided to downsize the strength to 150,000-1,00,000 soldiers, 30,000 sailors and 20,000 airmen — by 2030.

ALSO READ: India-Sri Lanka Ferry Resumes May 13

[mc4wp_form id=""]