June 22, 2024
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    Government Mobilizes Special Delegation to Ensure Welfare of Sri Lankans embroiled in Russian-Ukraine Conflict – State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya Featured

    May 16, 2024

    State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya announced that President Ranil Wickremesinghe has issued directives for the dispatch of a specialized delegation to Russia to investigate the welfare of Sri Lankans amidst the on-going Russian-Ukraine war.

    According to the state minister, this delegation will include the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, a former Ambassador to Russia, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with plans for prompt departure to Russia.

    State Minister Balasuriya made this announcement during a press briefing titled ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country,’ held at the President Media Centre (PMC).

    Addressing the media personnel, the state minister further stated;

    At present, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence are collaborating on a census of Sri Lankans caught amidst the Russian-Ukrainian war. It has been revealed that certain Sri Lankans entered Russia on tourist visas. Among them, were a significant number of retired military personnel who served in the tri-forces in Sri Lanka. The primary challenge lies in determining the exact number of individuals in Russia. As per unofficial sources, approximately 600, 800 Sri Lankan individuals are in Russia.

    Notably, the government has been proactive in addressing the situation concerning retired military personnel in Russia. Gratitude is extended to media institutes for their assistance in identifying those involved in the war in Russia. However, a pressing issue remains, which is the lack of specific information regarding the exact locations where these individuals are residing in Russia.

    Based on available information, it has come to our attention that smugglers have deceitfully transported individuals to Russia, attracting them with false promises such as the prospect of acquiring Russian citizenship. This is definitely human trafficking. Furthermore, reports indicate the involvement of a senior military officer in this incident. It is imperative to accurately assess the situation and halt the dispatch of personnel to Russia. Thereafter, diplomatic discussions should be held to facilitate the return of those already in Russia back to Sri Lanka. The government is actively engaged in these endeavours.

    Despite the Minister of Foreign Affairs being overseas, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed the formation of the delegation to investigate the situation of Sri Lankans affected by the Russian-Ukraine war. This delegation, consisting of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and the former Ambassador to Russia, is expected to be dispatched to Russia, with official notification to be provided to the Russian Embassy regarding this initiative.

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