For the umpteenth day, citizens of the Russian Federation are looking for ways to leave the country and avoid mobilization. Due to travel restrictions imposed by the war, Russians have limited options.
The fastest option was to fly, but most flights to, for example, Yerevan, Baku or Belgrade were sold out practically immediately several days in advance.
The tracking system Flightradar24, on which you can monitor flights around the world, has published on its Flights departing Moscow and St. Petersburg today. The @AP is reporting international flights departing Russia have either sold out or skyrocketed in price after Putin announced a mobilization of reservists.
animation that illustrates the interest of Russians in flights heading abroad.
Search SVO, VKO, DME for Moscow airports and LED for St. Petersburg. pic.twitter.com/LV2PrkwPD9
Flights departing Moscow and St. Petersburg today. The @AP is reporting international flights departing Russia have either sold out or skyrocketed in price after Putin announced a mobilization of reservists.
Others use cars instead of planes to escape. During Thursday, for example, a column of several kilometers was formed at the border with Georgia. Although the country has long had strained relations with Moscow due to Russia’s 2008 invasion (more here), it has kept its land borders open.
Most of those present have to wait up to twelve hours before crossing the border. A BBC reporter filming at the border asked one of the men why he was fleeing to Georgia. He justified this by saying that he wanted to continue his studies and not join the war.
How the Russians approach mobilization
For Muscovites from cozy cafes used to electric scooters, the mobilization will be a shock. Other Russians support it – Vitalik would like to go to the front, but only if he is mobilized, not voluntarily, of course, writes a colleague of Seznam Zpráv from Moscow.
Igor, a twenty-six-year-old worker in the IT sector, who was interviewed by the British The Guardian, also chose to travel to Georgia. He is about to fly to Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia and then cross the land border.
Oleg also has a message for outraged social media contributors who point out that the Russians should have spoken out against the war before Putin announced mobilization. “I understand their frustration. “I went to an anti-war protest when Putin started the invasion, but the authorities just arrest everyone,” he says.
In addition, the monitoring group OVD-Info writes that people arrested at demonstrations are immediately summoned to the police station. “I think the only way I can personally help Ukraine now is if I don’t go there to fight,” says Igor.
Border guards in Finland, the only EU country that still accepts Russian citizens on tourist visas, have also noticed increased movement at the border in recent days. The Guardian also mentions reports of fronts on the Russian-Mongolian border.
Twenty-nine-year-old reserve sergeant Oleg from Tatarstan decided to go to Kazakhstan. It is said that he knew from the beginning that he would be first in line in the event of mobilization, but he still hoped that he would not have to fight in Ukraine.
“My heart sank when I was called. But I knew I didn’t have time to spare,” he says. He quickly packed his things and bought a ticket to Orenburg near the Kazakh border. “I will cross the border at night,” he told a British newspaper on Thursday of his plans.
He leaves his wife at home, who is due to give birth next week. “I will miss the most important day of my life. But I’m just not going to let Putin make me a killer in a war I don’t want to be a part of.”
Even men who have no military experience are packing because they do not believe the Kremlin’s statements that they will not be affected by the mobilization. “Putin lied that there would be no mobilization. Why wouldn’t he lie again about this partial mobilization?” asks the twenty-three-year-old Anton. Individual reports so far confirm his concerns, as we wrote here.