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Thousands continue to flee Russia to avoid fighting in Ukraine

People are still fleeing Russia after Vladimir Putin’s call up of 300,000. Reservists to his army continues.

After the Kremlin declared partial mobilization, thousands fled fleeing to avoid being sent to fighting in Ukraine.

After deciding not to wait to join the army, a businessman flew to Istanbul.

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He told the Associated Press that he didn’t know how to describe it mildly, but Putin is a war criminal.”

Putin warned the West this week he would use all weapons and said “I am certainly not bluffing” when he addressed Russia for first time since the invasion in Ukraine on 24 February.

Many one way flights from Moscow were sold out by the announcement, and the remaining tickets went up.

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Many people travel with tourist visas, but they say they don’t intend to return.

Russian couple Slava (29 years old) and Evgeniy (35 years old) left Russia immediately after Vladimir Putin declared that there was uncertainty about whether they would be called upon to fight in the future.

Image: A map showing where Russian citizens fleeing Russia seek refuge.

Slava stated, “At this stage we aren’t in demand – but it is not clear what tomorrow will bring,”

“We don’t support what’s happening right now. It is not something we want to do.”

After the couple fled, their dog was left behind by friends and family members.

“We have plans, and we have careers. Slava stated that the best scenario was to return home.

“On the contrary, saving our lives is vital.”

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What’s ‘partial mobilization’?

Max, a Russian student aged 21, stated that he was traveling via Finland to visit his relatives in Germany.

He spoke from Vaalimaa’s crossing point, where the queues are longer than usual, and said that although technically he was a student, he shouldn’t be afraid to be drafted. However, we have seen how quickly things are changing so I believe there is a chance.

“I just wanted safety.”

“Medical exemption passes at the sale”

After Mr Putin’s announcement, Russian Telegram channels claimed to be selling passes that exempt individuals from Russian military service.

Russia has made it illegal to avoid the draft. However, conscripts may be allowed to defer service in certain cases, even if they are medically unfit.

Some operators are attempting to profit from this situation by selling this paperwork, also known as a white ticket, online for large amounts.

Image Online sales of medical exemption passes have begun following the Kremlin’s partial mobilization

One channel called “Buy White Ticket”, used a Russian Ministry of Defence logo and the words “Not serve” in Russian.

A Friday post on the channel reads roughly like this: “We know that you don’t want go and die.”

“But that’s 2022 so we have a solution. You’ll receive help if you write soon.

This page has more than 42,000 subscribers, and was started over two years ago. It had only posted three times in the past, none of which were related to the military. This could be a sign that the channel has been recently repurposed.

On Tuesday, rumours of mobilization started to spread. An earlier advertisement posted on another channel said: “Mobilisation & conscription protection for all age groups.”

“No matter your age, you will never get called up for training and mobilisation. You will be simply forgotten.”

Image Post shared on Russian Telegram channels, advertising the medical exemption passes

According to the post, clients can expect to pay between 35,000 and 80,000 rubles for the service. This is roughly equivalent to PS450 to PS1,250.

It is hard to determine if the scammers or operators who post these ads actually offer the criminal services they claim to provide.

Russian media outlets are skeptical and warn readers about “scammers” and “fraudsters” online.

Crowds set sail for the Finnish border

According to the Finnish border agency, almost 6,500 Russians crossed over the eastern land border on Thursday. Heavy traffic was building up in the region.

This is more than twice the number of arrivals on Monday, as media reports in Finland indicate that the government intends to restrict Russian tourists’ access.

They wanted to reassure people by saying that they do a thorough inspection of every arrival with guards inspecting passports and visas as well as cash and cars.

The Czech Republic stated that it would not issue humanitarian visas for Russian citizens.

Jan Lipavsky, foreign minister, stated: “I understand Russians fleeing ever more desperate decisions made by Putin.

“But those who run because they don’t want to fulfill a duty imposed on them by their government…don’t meet the criteria of humanitarian visa.”

Image A line of cars forms at the Vaalimaa border crossing point in Virolahti Pic AP
Image Cars waiting for the Nuijamaa Border Checkpoint in Lappeenranta (Finland Pic: AP

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as Poland, have all stated that they will not provide refuge for fleeing Russians.

Religious leaders in Uzbekistan advised people to avoid getting involved in the conflict, as it would be against Islam.

Russia offers fast-track citizenship for foreigners who are willing to fight.

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However, the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan stated that terrorist organisations were recruiting Muslims to war under the banner of “holy warfare” or “jihad”.

Muslims can only sign up for military service if they are protecting their homeland. Defying this rule could result in criminal prosecution.


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