russians flee to the border after being drafted into the army
Russia – Lines formed at border crossings after President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday a partial military mobilization that could call up 300,000 people into combat.
Russian men are trying to leave the country to avoid being drafted to war in Ukraine. The Kremlin says reports of men of combat age fleeing are exaggerated. But many kilometers of cars lined up on the border with Georgia, including men trying to escape the war.
Some of those heading to the neighboring country used their bicycles to get around the lanes of cars and get around the ban on crossing on foot.
One of the men said he had been waiting since 0900 local time (0500 GMT) on Thursday and managed to cross over late in the evening. Another man reported a 12-hour wait, citing partial mobilization as the reason for leaving Russia to continue his studies.
Georgia is one of the few neighboring countries where Russians can enter without a visa. Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border with Russia, requires visas for travel and also reported an increase in traffic at night but said it was at a manageable level.
Other destinations that can be reached by air, such as Istanbul, Belgrade, or Dubai, saw ticket prices skyrocket immediately after the call-up announcement, with some destinations completely sold out. Turkish media are reporting a spike in one-way ticket sales while remaining visa-free flights could cost thousands of euros.
On Thursday, Germany’s interior minister signaled that Russians fleeing the draft would be welcome in her country. Nancy Feiser said deserters who face “brutal reprisals” will receive protection on a case-by-case basis after security checks. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic took a different tone, declaring that they would not provide asylum to fleeing Russians.