Indian student joins Ukraine paramilitary force fighting Russian invasion, as international volunteers head to Kyiv

Indian student joins Ukraine paramilitary force fighting Russian invasion, as international volunteers head to Kyiv
Twenty-one-year-old Sainikhesh Ravichandran had enlisted in a course at the National Aerospace University in Kharkiv in 2018. He has joined a paramilitary group called the Georgian National Legion, confirmed Indian media on Tuesday.
3 min read
08 March, 2022
Hundreds of foreigners have arrived in Ukraine to fight against the horrific Russian invasion of its western neighbour. (Getty Images)

A 21-year old student from India is the first confirmed Indian to have joined a paramilitary force fighting the Russian invasion in Ukraine. 

Sainikhesh Ravichandran enlisted with a group called the Georgian National Legion, as thousands of other Indians, especially students, scramble to leave the country, The Times of India reported.

Hundreds of foreign volunteers have flocked to Ukraine to fight the advancing Russian invasion.

There were around 18,000 Indians in Ukraine prior to the Russian invasion, mostly students.

It is unclear if there are other Indians involved in the Ukrainian defences, although some could be keeping a low profile as it is a possible criminal offence for Indians to fight in foreign militaries.

A tweet by Ukrainian independent news outlet The Kyiv Post hinted that other Indians have joined the Foreign Legion to protect Ukraine, but there is no official confirmation of this.

The New Arab has reached out to the Indian Embassies in Kyiv and London for comment. 

Ravichandran hails from Tamil Nadu state. Intelligence officials reportedly visited his house near the southern Indian city of Coimbatore on 6 March and submitted a report on his family background. They also enquired on the possible reasons he took up arms in Ukraine.

India's home ministry said in 2015 that Indian citizens are not allowed to fight abroad

Ravichandran's parents reportedly told the police that Ravichandran had an interest in the military and was rejected from joining the Indian armed forces due to his height.

He later went to the US Consulate in Chennai, southern India, to try and join the US army but was again refused. He later enrolled in a course at the National Aerospace University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in 2018.

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"When the war broke out, he was incommunicado for four days. That's when we saw a media report about a Tamil Nadu youth joining the Ukrainian forces and we were shocked," a family friend told The Times of India.

The news was later confirmed by the Indian embassy in Ukraine, and by Ravichandran himself who spoke to his parents and told them he wanted to continue fighting and couldn't be convinced to return home.

"We are in a terrible situation now. Please do not ask about my son," said his father. 

Russia's military offensive was especially brutal in Kharkiv, as Russian forces continue to shell Ukraine’s second largest city. One Indian student was killed in the city during Russian bombardments, while hundreds of others were stranded before fleeing or being evacuated.

Thousands of civilians have reportedly died in the brutal invasion and two million others have so far been forced to flee Ukraine.