When Sri Lanka's economy crashed in 2022, people sought work abroad wherever they could find it — including former soldiers who joined forces fighting in Ukraine after Russia's invasion.

Now the veterans — some of whom swapped their life savings for what they thought would be lucrative, noncombat jobs — are desperate to come back home.

"What we ask is to help bring back our husbands," said Renuka Karunaratne, 49, who said her husband was duped into going to Russia by a devious agent.