War in Ukraine: The Race to Leave Russia After Putin Calls Up Reservists to Combat | World

War in Ukraine: The Race to Leave Russia After Putin Calls Up Reservists to Combat | World
War in Ukraine: The Race to Leave Russia After Putin Calls Up Reservists to Combat | World

Putin said about 300,000 reservists will be called up to reinforce Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.

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After the announcement, thousands of protesters took to the streets in different Russian cities and more than a thousand people were arrested.

Long lines of cars form on the Russian-Georgia border

In this context, rather than protesting, it seems that many Russians are considering leaving their country to avoid being sent to the front lines.

An example of this is that airline tickets to countries where Russians do not need a visa have sold out or reached astronomical prices.

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Turkey, and Yerevan, Armenia, sold out Wednesday, with no more availability until next Sunday, according to data from Aviasales, Russia’s most popular flight booking site.

Some routes with stopovers, including those from Moscow to the Georgian capital Tbilisi, were also unavailable, while the cheapest flights to Dubai cost more than 300,000 rubles, Reuters reported.

Another popular destination for Russians is the Serbian capital Belgrade, where Russian citizens also do not need a visa. That route also collapsed due to demand for tickets, according to several media outlets.

2 of 2 Several protesters were arrested for protesting the mobilization — Photo: AFP/Via BBC

Several protesters were arrested for protesting the mobilization – Photo: AFP/Via BBC

After Putin announced the partial deployment of troops, conversations on Telegram about leaving Russia began to fill with questions about whether the men were being allowed to leave the country across land borders.

“We were worried about how we would cross the border. But there were no problems, there were no queues,” Alexander, who left his country through the checkpoint in Vladikavkaz, and entered Georgia, told the BBC.

He claims he left Russia by car with three other friends. Two of them are men aged 35 and 29.

Alexander and one of his friends are reservists, but, according to him, Russian border guards were not interested in that information on Wednesday.

“Nobody asked anything. They asked the usual questions: plans for Georgia and so on. No problems so far,” he said.

Valeria (name changed at her request) and her 33-year-old husband were also allowed to cross into Georgia without question. According to her, they crossed the border at 12:30 pm local time on Wednesday.

“They didn’t ask anything, we went by really fast, everything took an hour, there are no traffic jams, but I think the situation will change at night,” she said.

According to the woman, she and her husband were traveling to Georgia on their honeymoon and did not plan to leave Russia for good. But after the announcement of the partial mobilization, they are no longer sure about it.

Peter, 30 (who asked that we not use his real name), told the BBC he went through passport control at St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport and was waiting for a flight to Istanbul. He bought a ticket a long time ago.

At the border, he said, no one asked if he was a reservist or if he could be affected by the mobilization announced by Putin.

Can men leave Russia?

Neither President Vladimir Putin in his speech on Wednesday nor Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said anything about whether the men subject to the draft would be prevented from leaving Russia.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters he could not yet answer the question of whether borders would be closed to those subject to mobilization and promised to clarify this issue.

“There are different provisions on this issue in the current laws. Let’s have a little patience. Explanations on this matter will be made,” said the Kremlin representative, according to Interfax news agency.

The head of the Federal Tourism Agency of Russia, Zarina Doguzova, wrote on her Telegram channel that no additional restrictions have been introduced for Russians to travel abroad at this time.

Lawyers interviewed by the BBC’s Russian service disagree on whether the law prohibits men from traveling abroad under conditions of partial deployment of troops.

For lawyer Alexander Peredruk “the restriction applies to all persons who are registered in the Armed Forces, regardless of whether they are subject to recruitment for mobilization or not”.

“It is not known how this restriction will work in practice and whether travel abroad will be restricted. I have seen public statements from officials that there will be no restrictions, but the law clearly states that it is forbidden to leave without special permission in case of mobilization,” he says. .

Lawyer Arseniy Levinson says that at the moment there is no law in Russia that prohibits those who are under partial mobilization from leaving the country. Russian law does not specify the sex of citizens who must be mobilized.

Women who have not served in ground combat units can be called up for military service if they are registered in the military and have expertise in categories such as computer engineering, medicine, or printing and mapping, among others.

*With information from Amaliya Zatari of the BBC Russia in Moscow

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