Russians try to flee from conscription

Many flights out of Russia quickly sold out, while border crossings experienced a huge uptick in traffic, after concerns over Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilisation decision, to gather 300,000 reservists for the war in Ukraine.

Prices for air tickets out of Moscow soared above USD 5,000 for one-way tickets to the nearest foreign locations, with most air tickets sold out completely for the coming days.

Not able to leave

A tourism industry source told Reuters that there was desperation as people sought to find air tickets out of Russia.

“This is panic demand from people who are afraid they won’t be able to leave the country later - people are buying tickets not caring where they fly to,” the source said.

Dozens of passengers disembarked early on Thursday in Belgrade from a fight from Moscow. Many of the passengers had already bought tickets earlier, however, now they are contemplating the option not to come back.

Tailbacks on border crossings

Social media groups popped up with advice on how to get out of Russia, while one news site in Russian gave a list of “where to run away right now from Russia.” Meanwhile, long tailbacks formed at border crossings with Georgia and Finland.

Traffic arriving at Finland’s eastern border with Russia “intensified” overnight, the Finnish Border Guard said.

“The number clearly has picked up,” the Finnish border guard’s head of international affairs, Matti Pitkaniitty, told Reuters, adding that the situation was under control and border guards were ready at nine checkpoints.

Furthermore, some people started to protest on Wednesday after jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for mass demonstrations against the mobilisation. Independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info said nearly 1,400 people in 38 Russian cities had been detained in protests by Wednesday evening.

The mobilisation

Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two and backed a plan to annex swathes of Ukraine, warning the West he was not bluffing when he said he’d be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

In the far eastern region of Yakutia, a military commissar already ordered a call for mobilisation.