A senior Russian official said on Wednesday that the country never wanted Indians to be part of its army fighting the war in Ukraine, reported The Indian Express.

The remarks came a day after Moscow promised early release for the 35 to 50 Indian nationals who are believed to be serving alongside the Russian military.

“Let us be very clear, we have never wanted Indians to be part of the Russian Army,” said Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin, presently the Russian embassy’s Charge d’Affaires. “You would never see any announcement by Russian authorities on this.”

Babushkin claimed that most Indians were recruited as part of a commercial framework as they wanted to earn money. He added that most Indians hired as support staffers were working illegally and had gone to Russia on tourist visas.

Dozens of Indians stranded in Russia have sought the government’s help in returning home.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised with Russian President Vladimir Putin the matter of several Indians fighting alongside the Russian military.

“The prime minister strongly raised the issue of early discharge of Indian nationals who have been misled into the service of the Russian Army,” Kwatra said during a press briefing on Tuesday. “The Russian side promised early discharge of all Indian nationals from the service of the Russian Army.”