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Nigerian student volunteered to fight for Russia in Ukraine war, qualifies for Russian citizenship

A Nigerian national, Adam Mohammad Bakur Mohammad Ibrahim, 24, has been seeking Russian citizenship since May 2024.

He joined the Skif Cossack battalion in November 2023, where he was given the call sign ‘Vanka’ and participated in special military operations (SVO) as a member of the unit.

In December 2023, Russian media featured a story on Vanka, a Nigerian national who had captured a Ukrainian soldier, as seen in a video posted online, RT reports.

After completing his six-month contract, Adam returned to Voronezh, where he had previously studied at the Academy of Sports. He hoped to resume his studies and obtain Russian citizenship, but faced obstacles in acquiring a Russian passport.

Seeking assistance, Ibrahim reached out to RT. His journey in Russia began in September 2023, when he enrolled in the Voronezh State Academy of Sports. Two months later, in November 2023, he took a leave of absence from his studies to join the special military operation (SVO), with the academy’s consent.

“In November 2023, I wanted to volunteer for the Northern Military District,” Adam told RT. “I went because I wanted to stay in Russia after studying and become a citizen of this country.”

As a non-Russian citizen, Adam was unable to enter into a contract directly with the Ministry of Defense. However, there is a legal workaround for foreign nationals who wish to support Russia’s military efforts: they can sign an agreement with an organization authorized to carry out tasks assigned to the Russian Armed Forces in the Northern Military District.

Adam enlisted in the Skif Cossack battalion, which is part of the Terek Cossack brigade, and was given the call sign ‘Vanka’ during his service.

Adam signed the agreement on November 11, 2023, and was initially assigned as a shooter.

However, he quickly demonstrated his versatility and acquired an additional skillset as a UAV operator while on the front lines. During his deployment, Adam participated in combat missions in the Soledar direction, earning a reputation as an exemplary warrior, as noted by the chief of staff of the Skif DRO in his official description of Adam’s service.

The document reads, “During his participation in the special operation for the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine and being in the Adam Mohammad Bakur detachment, Mohammad Ibrahim with the call sign Vanka, in the position of shooter, established himself as a responsible, courageous, conscientious, strong-willed, disciplined warrior.

“In the performance of his patriotic duty, he performed combat missions, despite the conditions directly associated with the risk of life. During the period of a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine for the specified period, as part of the 35th separate volunteer detachment “Skif” repeatedly participated in hostilities in direct contact with the enemy on the front line of defense of the detachment. He enjoys well-deserved authority and respect within the team.”

When Adam’s contract with Skif expired on May 4, 2024, he returned to Voronezh, planning to resume his studies and expecting to do so as a newly minted citizen of the Russian Federation, having hoped to have his citizenship application processed during his time away fighting.

While Adam was serving on the front lines, President of the Russian Federation’s Decree No. 10, dated January 4, 2024, came into effect.

The decree stipulates the conditions for foreign citizens, like Adam, who have signed a military service contract with the Russian Armed Forces or affiliated military formations, and their family members, to be admitted to Russian citizenship.

According to the presidential decree, Adam is eligible for simplified Russian citizenship, allowing him to bypass the usual naturalization process and gain citizenship through a more expedited route.

Despite being eligible for simplified citizenship under the presidential decree, Adam’s efforts to obtain Russian citizenship have been met with failure so far.

The young man alleges that he sought assistance at the Voronezh EMC, but was left without guidance or support. Meanwhile, returning to his home country of Nigeria has become a risky proposition for Adam, as he faces potential imprisonment for mercenary activities.

Adam said, “I stayed on the front line for six months, my contract expired on May 4.

“Now I have a problem with obtaining citizenship. For now I am in Voronezh and continue to study at VGAS. At home they could arrest me, they could give me 20 years in prison.”

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