Russian call-ups cause more than 194,000 people to flee to nearby nations.


Russian call-ups cause more than 194,000 people to flee to nearby nations.

(AP) TALLINN, Estonia — Vsevolod traveled four days by car from Moscow to Georgia’s southern border. At one point, he had to leave his automobile and proceed on foot. 

He eventually crossed the border on Tuesday after traveling 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) to avoid being drafted into Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

“At 26, I do not want to be carried home in a zinc-lined (coffin) or stain (my) hands with somebody’s blood because of the war of one person that wants to build an empire,” he told The Associated Press, asking that his last name not be used because he feared retaliation from Russia.

He was one of more than 194,000 Russian nationals who have fled to the nearby countries of Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Finland in the week since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists. The majority of them traveled by car, bicycle, or foot. 

After Putin’s address to the country on September 21, a large exodus of men—alone or with their families or friends—began and has continued throughout this week. Airline tickets, which were in high demand on the few airlines still operating out of Russia, were quickly purchased by them. However, the remainder were forced to fill up their vehicles with gas and join the lengthy queues that snaked down the highways leading to the borders.

On Tuesday, the line of vehicles snarled for over 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) as it led to Verkhny Lars, a border crossing into Georgia from Russia’s North Ossetia region, according to the online service Yandex Maps. After Russian border guards modified the rules and let pedestrians to pass, social media showed hundreds of people queuing up at the checkpoint. 

At some border crossings into Kazakhstan, similarly long lines were recorded.

The Interior Ministry of Georgia said over 53,000 Russians have entered the country since last week, while Interior Ministry officials in Kazakhstan said 98,000 crossed into that nation. The Finnish Border Guard agency said over 43,000 arrived in the same period. Media reports also said another 3,000 Russians entered Mongolia, which also shares a border with the country. 

Russian authorities sought to stem the flow, barring some men from leaving and citing mobilization laws. The practice did not seem widespread, but rumors persisted that Moscow may soon shut the borders to all men of fighting age.

Authorities in North Ossetia reported to the state news agency Tass that Russian males are receiving call-up summonses at border crossings into Georgia and that a temporary recruitment office will be set up at the Verkhny Lars crossing.

Only roughly 300,000 individuals with prior military duty or combat experience will be mustered, according to Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, but there have been reports from several Russian areas that recruiters were collecting up men who did not fit that description. Fears of a much wider call-up were stoked by this, causing men of all ages and backgrounds to swarm airports and borders.

“There’s a risk that they will announce a full mobilization,” according to a resident of St. Petersburg who made it to Kazakhstan on Tuesday. The man, who refused to give his name because he feared for his safety, told AP he spent three days driving from his home to Uralsk in northwestern Kazakhstan near the border. 

He said Putin’s mobilization remarks differed from what his decree said, leaving room for a broader interpretation, adding: “People worry that sooner or later, a full mobilization will be announced, and no one will be able to cross the borders.”

The most popular places for individuals traveling by land to escape the call-up appeared to be Kazakhstan and Georgia, both of which offered visa-free entrance to Russian nationals as well as being parts of the former Soviet Union. Norway and Finland demand visas. 

Georgia, which supports Ukraine as evidenced by the yellow and blue flags flying from buildings and the anti-Putin and anti-Russian graffiti, has some reservations about the migration of Russians, particularly after the nation engaged in a brief war with Moscow in 2008. 

Politicians in the opposition have urged the government to take harsh measures against the arriving Russians, such as requiring visas or outright banning them. Such a step has not yet been taken.

Kazakhstan looks to be more hospitable. The 19 million-strong Central Asian country has been more independent from its partner, Moscow, since the start of the conflict, particularly with regards to the conflict in Ukraine. 

Interior Minister of Kazakhstan Marat Akhmetzhanov stated in revealing the number of Russians who had crossed the border that officials wouldn’t deport those evading the call-up home unless they were listed on a global wanted list for criminal offenses.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev even ordered his government to help the Russians entering his country “because of the current hopeless situation.”

“We must take care of them and ensure their safety. It is a political and a humanitarian issue. I tasked the government to take the necessary measures,” he said, adding that Kazakhstan will hold talks with Russia on the issue.

In Uralsk, volunteers helped those entering the city of 236,000. Some of them told AP that they were serving free hot meals and helping the arrivals to find accommodations, which were quickly filling up. Those who can’t find apartments or hotel rooms could spend the night in gyms, one volunteer said.

Dilara Mukhambetova, director of the Cinema Park theater, even said arriving Russians could sleep in her facility after she drove around the city and saw a lot of people who looked lost. 

“We freed up one auditorium, organized tea, and volunteers brought hot meals,” Mukhambetova was quoted by local media as saying. “We filled four auditoriums, (accommodating) about 200 people in total.”

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Noble Otto
Noble Otto
Noble Otto is the founder of BS-Hub. Noble Otto has been running BS-Hub for 3 Years alongside he is a Web Designer, Social Media Manager & Content Creator. With over 5 Years of experience he has worked with big brands in Nigeria.

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