Kurukshetra IAS Academy Blogs

1. Several Indians released by Russian Army: MEA

Ministry of External Affairs says it ‘strongly’ took up such cases with Russian authorities Brother of a missing J&K resident says their calls to the Indian mission have gone unanswered ‘Committed’ to secure discharge of Indians in all relevant cases from Russian Army, says Ministry

The Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday that several Indians who joined the Russian Army were already discharged after such cases were “strongly” taken up with the Russian authorities.

The Ministry said it has “seen some inaccurate reports in the media regarding Indians with the Russian Army seeking help for discharge”.

The Hindu had reported that several workers hired as security helpers for the Russian Army have approached the Indian Embassy in Moscow seeking the government’s help to return home but have not received a response.

‘Top priority’

“Each and every such case brought to the attention of the Indian Embassy in Moscow has been strongly taken up with the Russian authorities and those brought to the attention of the Ministry have been taken up with the Russian Embassy in New Delhi. Several Indians have already been discharged as a result. We remain committed, as a matter of top priority, to actively pursuing with the Russian authorities all the relevant cases of Indian nationals for an early discharge from the Russian Army,” the Ministry said.

On Monday, the brother of Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh (32), a resident of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir who has been incommunicado since January after he joined the Russian Army, told The Hindu that multiple calls and messages to the Indian Embassy have gone unanswered. Mudasir Amin said that his brother was working in Chandigarh when he got an offer to work in Russia.

“He got engaged a few months ago and reached Russia in December 2023. He regularly spoke with us but on January 1 he told us that he is going for training and his number would be unreachable for the next three months,” Mr. Amin said. He added that the same month, another worker who was with Mr. Zahoor and had escaped the war zone, called their father and said they were stuck. “We did not worry till then as Zahoor told us he would be in a no-network zone, but when we started calling him, his Indian and Russian phone numbers were not reachable,” Mr. Amin said.

An agent helped the family lodge a complaint with the emergency numbers of the Indian Embassy on January 23 and submitted copies of their documents with the mission.

“We filed a complaint with the local police. We have written several mails. Our calls to the Indian mission either remain unanswered or they say the officials are in a meeting. They keep saying that all paperwork has been done and sent further to the Russian authorities,” Mr. Amin said.

Contract in Russian

He added that Mr. Zahoor holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and went to Russia as he was promised the job of a security helper. “He was made to sign a contract that was in Russian language. He did not know he will be sent to the war zone. We request the government to get him back,” Mr. Amin said.

Another J&K resident, Azad Yusuf Kumar, who was hit by a bullet during training, has also appealed for a return.

Surinder Paul (27), a resident of Jammu, said he was stuck in a bunker with another Indian in Ukraine. “We first approached the Indian mission through our agent on January 24. All documents were provided but we are still here. We want to come back. The Russians tell us that we cannot leave as the contract we signed states that we have to be here for a year,” said Mr. Paul.

2. Centre ‘examining’ Indian tech firm sanctioned by EU, U.S. for ‘close ties’ with Russian companies

The government is examining details of an Indian tech company, involved in semiconductor research, that was sanctioned by the European Union on Friday for its dealings with Russia. The company is a partner of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for a very recent “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (Make in India) collaboration, officials confirmed to The Hindu.

The company, Bengaluru-based high-tech firm Si2 Microsystems, has a complex history as it has been banned by the U.S. from “dual-use” technology transfers as well, and its directors had been placed on Lookout Circular (LOC) notices by Indian authorities over debt defaults.

A few years ago, a director had approached courts for a waiver of the LOC so as to travel to Russia, his lawyers confirmed, indicating that the company had urgent and close ties with Russian counterparts.

However, the company and its directors remained unavailable for comment on the latest sanctions, which were announced to mark two years of the Russian war in Ukraine.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) declined to comment, but officials told The Hindu all three Ministries concerned — the MEA, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (CIM) and MeitY — were aware of the announcement, as well as the links to the government.

“This is a known company that is an industry partner for a project to research fabrication of chips, that was announced in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology-Madras,” an official said, confirming the government tie-up that was announced by the Press Information Bureau last year.

The official said that the government is examining the EU’s sanctions announcement and whether it should contact the EU to protest the decision.

“India has done nothing illegal. It is their [the EU’s] interpretation that ties with Russia are a problem. As far as the government is concerned, the sanctioned company is an industry partner and MeitY’s research partner,” the official said.

When asked if any “due diligence” had been done with regard to the company, given its legal complications, the official said that the choice of partner had been made by IIT-Madras, where MeitY had set up the Centre for Programmable Photonic Integrated Circuit and Systems in 2020.

In November 2023, Si2 Microsystems had been added to the U.S.’s restricted “Entities List” for supplying “U.S.-origin integrated circuits” to the Russian military despite the transfers being banned after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, without the required licence.

On Friday, the EU’s latest list named Si2 Microsystems India as “Entity number 620”.

The Hindu reached out to Si2 Microsystems directly but did not receive a response to the EU sanctions. Calls to their lawyers, who represented them in a bankruptcy matter where the company’s headquarter building was attached by the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Mumbai in September 2022, went unanswered.

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