The Russian authorities announce that the mobilization is going well, at least 10 thousand have already signed up for the war. volunteers without even waiting for conscription. But images from Russia’s borders, airports and social media show otherwise – many men fit to fight are frantically trying to leave the country.
Screenshot/Google Russians searched for “how to leave Russia”
Sweepstakes flight tickets
Mandatory conscription began on Thursday. The Kremlin intends to conscript at least 300,000 soldiers into the war in Ukraine. reservists. As early as Wednesday evening, not very numerous protest actions began in various Russian cities, which were quickly suppressed by the police. More than 1,300 people were arrested. On Saturday, new protest actions are called, but far more Russian citizens are not going to protest, but fleeing the country.
VIDEO: V. Putin announces partial mobilization in Russia
The BNS news agency reports that tickets to neighboring countries, mainly former Soviet republics where Russians do not need visas, have been wiped out and prices have skyrocketed – evidence that Russians are fleeing abroad en masse to avoid being sent to war.
A search on the Aviasales website showed that there were no seats available for one-way flights from Moscow to Istanbul in economy class until Sunday, with the lowest price at nearly $2,900.
Photos are being shared on social networks showing that Moscow airports are full of young people.
“I don’t want to go to war,” a man named Dmitry told AFP after flying to Armenia with one small bag.
AFP/”Scanpix” photo/Men who flew to the capital of Armenia from Russia
“I don’t want to die in this senseless war. This is a fratricidal war,” he said.
At Yerevan airport, most of the passengers who arrived from Moscow on the last flight were men of serviceable age. Many of them refused to talk to journalists.
Since February 24, when Russia attacked Ukraine, the Armenian capital has become one of the main travel destinations for Russians leaving the country.
Meeting AFP reporters in the arrivals hall of Yerevan airport, 44-year-old Sergey, who looked lost and exhausted, said he had fled Russia to avoid being drafted.
“The situation in Russia would make anyone want to leave,” he said.
The Russians are trying to branch out anywhere they can: to Armenia, to Sakartvel, to Turkey, to Kazakhstan, even to Belarus, which is an ally of the Kremlin in the war with Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday dismissed reports of airports overflowing with people trying to leave Russia following the announcement, calling them “exaggeration” and “fake news.”
Long lines of cars stretch along the land borders
Videos on social networks from Russia’s land borders with several countries show long queues of vehicles, according to CNN.
Queues formed at the border crossing points to Kazakhstan, Sakartvel and Mongolia. One video showed dozens of vehicles lined up at a checkpoint on the border between Sakartvel and Russia overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. On Thursday, this queue got even longer. One video showed a long line stretching into the mountains beyond the border crossing point, with one man commenting that it was 5-6 kilometers long.
Reuters/Scanpix photo/A queue of cars wanting to enter Sakartvela from Russia
Another video posted on Thursday shows long queues at a border crossing into Mongolia.
One man spoke in a video recorded at the Troitsky crossing into Kazakhstan, where dozens of cars were parked on Thursday morning: “It’s Troitsky, lines of trucks and cars… you can’t see the beginning or the end of this line… everyone, everyone is fleeing Russia, all kinds”.
Rushing to the wall with Sakartwell
Especially many Russians fleeing mobilization are trying to get to Sakartvela.
According to Russians interviewed by the BBC, the queue of cars at the Upper Lars border crossing on the Russian side stretches for more than six kilometres.
Some even switched to bicycles to get to Sakartvela faster, as crossing the border on foot is prohibited.
“People say they’ve been standing since two o’clock in the morning and only now managed to break through. I have been standing since 9 o’clock. in the morning and I made it faster because, as you can see, I used a vehicle,” a resident of Voronezh, who cycled past the border checkpoint late on Thursday, told the BBC.
Reuters/Scanpix photo/A queue of cars wanting to enter Sakartvela from Russia
He does not hide that he came to Sakartvela because he was afraid of being drafted into the army.
“For now, I’ll rent an apartment, and then we’ll see. I’m still lucky because I can work more or less remotely,” he says.
All the Russians the BBC spoke to after they crossed the border on Thursday night spoke on condition of anonymity. Most claim that the reason for the departure from Russia is the partial mobilization announced there. According to the young couple who came to Sakartvela, they made the decision to leave Russia very quickly.
“Recently we were on vacation here in Sakartvel. Now we’re back again. Well, we will continue to explore Sakartvel,” said the boy, who did not want to give his last name.
“Last time we crossed the border in an hour, now it took us about 12 hours,” he said.
In various social network groups, Russians trying to get to Sakartvela constantly write about border jams and huge queues. Long queues at the exits from Russia after the partial mobilization was announced can also be seen in the videos that have been circulated.
Meanwhile, the Revenue Service of the Sakartwell Ministry of Finance said on Thursday that the number of entries and exits across the Sakartwell state border did not vary or increase significantly over the past 10 days.
Men with Russian passports are checked at Minsk airport
Social networks are warning that Russians fleeing mobilization should avoid Belarus, as they may be sent back to their homeland.
Men holding Russian passports have begun to be checked at the Minsk airport. According to a source at German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Belarusian police are involved in the inspections.
The newspaper “Naša Niva” reports that on September 21 Belarusian law enforcement officers received an order to track down Russians hiding from the mobilization.
“Until now, verbal orders have instructed them to monitor day-rent flats and contact flat owners. It is also indicated to monitor new cars with Russian license plates in the yards. Collect information, check documents,” a source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs told the publication.
Berlin: Germany is ready to accept deserters from Russia
The Baltic countries have already announced that they do not intend to admit Russian deserters fleeing mobilization. Finland is also talking about stopping the influx of Russians.
The Finnish government is considering ways to drastically reduce Russian tourism and transit through Finland, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said. Finland’s border guard said the flow of arrivals at the country’s eastern border “intensified” overnight after Putin ordered a partial military mobilization.
About 4,824 Russians entered Finland through the country’s eastern border on Wednesday, 1,691 more than the same day last week, according to Matti Pitkaniitty, head of international affairs at the Border Guard Service.
AFP/”Scanpix” photo/Queue of cars at the border with Finland
Meanwhile, a debate is raging in Europe about whether to accept Russian deserters. There is no consensus.
The German authorities are of the opinion that fleeing Russians should be accepted.
Germany is ready to take in Russian deserters, several ministers said Thursday, amid reports of people fleeing a partial mobilization ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
“Defectors who are at risk of serious repression can usually get international protection in Germany,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview.
“Anyone who bravely opposes Putin’s regime and is therefore in great danger can request asylum from political persecution,” the minister added.
Kazakhstan will not admit deserters
A senior Kazakh official, Maulen Ashimbayev, said Kazakhstan could not restrict the entry of Russian citizens into the country, but said applicants must have documents that meet legal requirements to obtain a residence permit.
According to him, Kazakhstan will not issue permanent residence permits to Russian citizens without Moscow’s permission.
“Our official institutions will not issue residence permits to persons who do not submit documents confirming that their country of citizenship does not object to their moving to Kazakhstan,” he assured.
In recent days, an endless stream of Russian citizens has been pouring into Kazakhstan.
This is what the manager of a hotel in Kazakhstan’s Pavlodar region (near the border with Russia) told the BBC: “Last night, more than 50 people arrived. The hotel is full, but the flow of people does not stop. We admit all comers and help those who do not have rooms to stay in other hotels in the city.
The hotel has 200 rooms, but staff say the number of arrivals is record.
“People look scared, they talk about long queues at the border,” added the hotel manager.