The Russians are running away from the crowd

The Russians are running away from the crowd

A long line of Russian cars waits at the Finnish border crossing Valema, about three hours from Saint Petersburg.Photo by Janice Laysanz/Reuters

According to the Russian government, 300,000 reservists will be called up, but the actual decree is still not clear who can expect a call-up. Russian conscription puts about 25 million Russians at risk of having to fight in Ukraine.

Neighboring countries stress that there is additional pressure at the border due to the increased influx of refugees from Russia. In particular, this has caused congestion at four of the 30 border crossings near Kazakhstan, the country’s customs authorities reported Friday, without giving the numbers. Local media write about traffic jams for several kilometers.

Russian panic

Many are trying to enter Georgia. Independent Russian news site Mediazone writes about terrified Russians stuck in traffic for hours at a border crossing with Georgia. According to traffic data from the Russian technology company Yandex, similar to Google, there were also kilometers of traffic jams on the Russian side of the border with Georgia on Friday.

There are no such sights on the border with Finland. That country has come up with numbers: On Wednesday, the day the mobilization was announced, more than 4,800 Russians crossed the border, compared to 3,100 a week earlier. On Thursday, the flow increased further to 6,500, according to customs, which assures that the increase in the flow will not cause any problems. A video of a long traffic jam at the Finnish border, which was widely shared on social media, dates back to before the mobilization.

It is also said that the flow to Mongolia has increased. Photos of a long line of cars circulating on social media look original: they have not been published before and are actually filmed in the Russian border town of Khunta. Mongolian media confirm that she is very busy.

The crowds are at least the result of the Russians fleeing the crowd, according to local and international media reports at the border. For example, the BBC spoke to a man who said he was standing 12 hours before the Georgian border and wanted to leave because of the mobilization. Oleg, 29, said he found a call in his mailbox just hours after President Putin’s speech on Wednesday, he told the British newspaper. Watchman. He said he immediately booked a flight to the Kazakh border, which he wanted to cross on Thursday evening. He left his pregnant wife who is scheduled to sit next week.

Prices for tickets for flights not yet fully booked have more than doubled since Putin’s speech. A one-way ticket from Moscow to Istanbul will cost at least 1,200 euros on Saturday, while a trip to Belgrade in Serbia or Yerevan in Armenia will cost about 10,000 euros. Several planes are full: Tickets to popular destinations like Georgia or Montenegro were all sold out on Friday.

No residence permit

In many countries with an increased influx of Russians, such as Georgia and Turkey, Russians do not need a visa to enter. This does not mean that they can stay there permanently. According to the speaker of the Kazakh parliament, Molen Ashimbayev, a close confidant of the president, fugitive Russians do not have to rely on a residence permit.

The Baltic states and Poland have already decided to close their borders to most Russians, and Latvia made it clear right after Putin’s speech that Russian fugitives are not welcome either. Prime Minister Sanna Marin said this week that Finland is strongly considering doing the same.

European politics

On the other hand, Germany has hinted that it may grant asylum to Russians fleeing the mobilization. European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the European Commission would like to see EU member states agree on a common policy for receiving these Russians. He said that half a million Russians have left the country since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.

In collaboration with Erik Verwiel.

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