The arrests of a dozen people in Nepal accused of smuggling young men into Russia’s army has shed a spotlight on fighters from the poor Asian country, Report informs referring to BBC.

Earlier this week, Nepal asked Russia to return Nepali mercenaries as six of them have died in fighting in Ukraine.

The smugglers allegedly charged each man up to $9,000 to take them in on tourist visas, Kathmandu police said.

It’s unknown how many Nepali serve in Russia’s army, but it’s estimated to be at least hundreds.

Nepal’s ambassador to Russia has said around 150-200 Nepali nationals have been fighting for Russia – but there are also reports from locals of scores of people signing up every week for money and visa residency reasons.

Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world, with about 40% of the population living below the poverty line according to the World Bank.

It largely prohibits its citizens from joining foreign armies – although there are exemptions for its ethnic Gurkha soldiers to join the Indian and British armies – but this ban is also hard to enforce.

Russia has been actively seeking to boost the number of its troops as its war with Ukraine grinds on. It has reportedly recruited mercenaries from countries like Georgia, Syria and Libya.