Russian mobilization spark exodus as air fares peak

Russian mobilization spark exodus as air fares peak
Update: 22 September 2022 21:15
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Thousands of Russians have left their home country since President Putin’s announcement that could lead to the conscription of 300,000 reservists

Russian men started fleeing after President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced partial mobilization which will add as much as 300 thousand more soldiers to the Russian ailing army against Ukrainian forces which regained some lost territory in the recent weeks.

Following the announcement, the direct flights from Moscow to visa free countries Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia sold out within minutes, with ground traffic at frontier crossings with Finland and Georgia surged.  

Serbia also became a refuge for Russians as thousands fled to visa-free country where the government has refused to put sanctions on Russia. The price of a plane ticket from Moscow to Belgrade went up to $12,000 on Wednesday.

Maria Antonova, a researcher from Russia said that there are reports from Georgia turning Russian men away from border crossings. “The ban on Russians entering some EU countries using tourist visas has this context now: you're effectively driving Russian men into Putin's army,” Antonova commented.

The three Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also announced on Wednesday that they will not offer refuge to any Russians fleeing Moscow’s mobilization.

Before the mobilization announcement on Monday, four of the five EU countries bordering Russia closed their doors to Russian tourists. Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania began turning away Russians, saying that they should not travel while Russia is at war with Ukraine.

Currently, Finland is the only available EU land border for Russians. Finnish Border Guard, on Thursday, announced that the traffic arriving at their border crossings with Russia intensified but the situation is under control. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that reports of an exodus of draft-age men were exaggerated. Asked about reports that men detained at anti-war protests were being given draft papers, Peskov said it was not against the law.