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Russia refutes coercing Nigerian students to fight in Ukrainian war

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The Russian Embassy in Nigeria on Wednesday vehemently denied claims of coercing African students, particularly Nigerians, to participate in the ongoing war in Ukraine in exchange for visa extensions.

According to Bloomberg’s Monday report, Russia purportedly sought to enlist thousands of migrants and foreign students to reinforce its troops in the war against Ukraine, adopting tactics similar to those employed by the Wagner mercenary group.

European officials reportedly assessed this situation, claiming that the Kremlin was threatening not to extend visas for African students and young workers unless they agreed to join the military.

Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, an organisation focused on spreading knowledge about Russia abroad, Yevgeny Primakov estimated that there are currently 35,000-37,000 African students in Russia.

Labelling the reports as fake news and entirely unfounded, the embassy emphasised the potential damage such misinformation could inflict on the educational cooperation between Russia and Nigeria.

According to the embassy’s statement, no association of Nigerian students in Russia has confirmed the allegations. Nigerian students reportedly face no difficulties in extending their visas while pursuing their studies in Russia.

The embassy commended the efforts of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Association of Nigerian Students in Moscow for debunking the false claims and reaffirmed its commitment to fostering friendship and cooperation between Russia and Nigeria.

The statement read, “The Embassy of the Russian Federation is compelled to emphasise 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 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 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”.

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