Migrants from Central Asian countries got involved in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

It is reported that with the launch of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, immigrants from Central Asia who have obtained Russian citizenship are being drafted into the Russian army. There is information about the voluntary participation in the warfare of migrants who hope to receive Russian citizenship in exchange for military service. It is also reported about labour migrants missing in Ukraine.

Naturalised immigrants from the countries of Central Asia have been actively recruited into the Russian army. Human rights activist Karimjon Yorov wrote on March 4 on Facebook: “For three days now, Tajiks with Russian citizenship have been reporting invitations to the military recruitment office”. According to migrant rights defender Valentina Chupyk, the migrants claim they are being forced to sign military service contracts, those who evade are threatened with withdrawal of citizenship.

Sardarbek Mamatillaev, 25, from the city of Osh has recently obtained Russian citizenship. Although he has already served in the Kyrgyzstan army, he will now have serve in the Russian military. “Now they call me and tell me to come to the draft board, otherwise they will deprive me of the citizenship. […] I think, it is all because of the Ukraine. There are many ads now for recruiting conscripts on various websites”, Mamatillaev said. This information is confirmed by other Kyrgyzstanis in Russia, who received draft cards and were forced to join the Russian army.

In 2013, the federal law On Military Duty and Military Service was amended, according to which all young people of military age who have received Russian citizenship are required to serve in the military forces of the Russian Federation, even if they have previously served in the army of their country, with an exception for the natives of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, who have relevant international agreements with Russia.

A lot of the migrants are willing to sign the contracts with the Russian army as they have lost their jobs since the war started. Also, there are those who try to obtain Russian citizenship as soon as possible.

On December 29, 2021, Putin submitted a bill to the State Duma that simplifies the acquisition of Russian citizenship for contract servicemen in the Russian Armed Forces. The term for consideration of their applications for admission to the citizenship of the Russian Federation is planned to be reduced from one year to three months. The bill has yet to be passed, but in recent weeks some migrants have received calls from some dubious firms promising citizenship within three months if they sign the contract. This was told by 15 migrants who live in Russia. The number of emigrants from Central Asia fighting now in Ukraine is unknown, however, at least 3 natives of Kyrgyzstan have been killed in Ukraine.

In March, it became known about the death of 19-year-old Egemberdi Dorboev (buried in his native village in the Issyk-Kul region) and 26-year-old contract soldier Rustam Zarifulin, a native of Kara-Balta, Chui region. Their bodies were transported to Kyrgyzstan through the Russian airbase in Kant. In April, another soldier, native of Kyrgyzstan, was killed. The head of the Zhazy ayil okmotu of the Uzgen district of the Osh region, Avatbek Zholoev, said that in the village of Kara-Dyikan, relatives are waiting for the body of the deceased for burial: “The body has not been delivered yet, they said that today it will be known when they are going to bring it. He left for Russia long time ago, received citizenship there. There he joined the army. His parents live here. They say that he was killed in Ukraine”.

There is no reliable information about migrants from Central Asia fighting on the Ukrainian side, but have been reports on civilian deaths. On April 18, it became known that 11 migrants from the Surkhandarya region of Uzbekistan, who worked in the suburbs of Kyiv, went missing in the first days after the invasion of Russian troops. Last time they contacted their relatives from the village of Buzovaya, Buchansky district, Kyiv region.

On April 9, during the evacuation from Donetsk, a 62-year-old native of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan, Yodali Muborakshoev, and his wife Tatyana were killed. Their car was involved in a fatal accident when they tried to steer past the gunfire. They were buried on April 13 in the village of Kozelets, Chernihiv region of Ukraine.