Several Russian men rushed to their country’s borders on Thursday after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilizationwith increased traffic at border crossings with Finland Y Georgia and a sharp rise in the prices of airline tickets from Moscow.
Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilization since World War II and backed a plan to annex parts of Ukrainewarning the West that he meant business when he said he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.
The prices of plane tickets to leave Moscow soared above $5,000 for the closest one-way overseas tickets, and most were completely sold out for the next few days.
Groups appeared on social networks with tips on leaving russiawhile a Russian-language news site offered a list of “where to flee right now from Russia”. There were long queues at the border crossings with Georgia and Finland.
Many Russians were also arriving at the airports of Serbian Y Turkey, two countries with which Russia maintains friendly ties.
“War is horrible”said to Reuters Sergei, a Russian who did not want to give his last name, upon arriving at Belgradethe Serbian capital. “It’s okay to be afraid of war and death and stuff like that.”
A Russian man who only gave his name as Alex told Reuters in istanbul who had left Russia partly due to mobilization.
“The partial mobilization is one of the reasons why I am here“, he claimed. “It seems like a very poor measure and it can bring a lot of problems to many Russians”. As he stated, his impression is that not many Russians want to be sent to fight.
“I feel that there are not many Russians who want to fight and be mobilized and go to the army”said.
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskovsaid Thursday that reports of a exodus of men of draft age are exaggerated. Asked about reports that men detained at anti-war protests were receiving draft papers, Peskov said that was not against the law.
A tourist industry source told Reuters that there was desperation as people searched for plane tickets to leave Russia: “It is a panic demand by people who fear they will not be able to leave the country later; people are buying tickets without caring where they fly”.
Also the traffic arriving at the Finland’s eastern border with Russia “intensified” overnightthe Finnish Border Guard said. Finland is the only European country bordering Russia that still accepts tourists from that country, after the Baltic countries and Poland began to ban them from entering.
Russian police on Wednesday arrested more than 1,300 people in the protests denouncing the mobilization, according to a rights group.
(With information from Reuters)
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