At least 200,000 Russians have left the country in the week since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization after a series of setbacks in the country’s war with Ukraine, according to figures provided by Russia’s neighbours.
The crowd could draw up to 300,000 civilians into military service, which Russian officials have said is a combination of some 25 million Adults eligible to enlist on their lists, suggesting that the departure, while unusual, may not prevent the Kremlin from achieving its enlistment goals.
A video posted on social media showed long lines of cars approaching border checkpoints in countries including Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland. The rapid outflow, as well as a series of protests in different parts of the country, is a stark display of discontent with Putin’s policy.
“I left because of my disagreement with the current government in Russia,” said Alexander Olenikov, 29, a bus driver from Moscow who crossed overland into northeastern Georgia. He said that many people he knew were against the war, which he described as a “tragedy” caused by a “crazy dictator”.
However, the scale of the mass migration is difficult to quantify, given that Russia has a border with 14 countries, stretching from China and North Korea to the Baltic states, and not all governments release regular statements on migration.
Kazakhstan’s government said on Tuesday that 98,000 Russians entered the country last week, and Georgia’s interior minister said more than 53,000 people had entered the country in the past week. crossed into the country From Russia since September 21, when the mobilization was announced. The daily number during those days rose to about 10,000 from the normal level of about 5,000 to 6,000.
The European Union border agency, Frontex, said in a statement That said, nearly 66,000 Russian citizens entered the block in the week to Sunday, a 30 percent increase from the previous week.
These figures give some additional credence to the scale of the exodus described in a report over the weekend by the independent Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta Europe, based in Latvia, which cited what it said was an estimate of the security services provided by an unnamed source. Of the 261,000 men who left the country on Sunday.
There is also evidence that Russia may be moving to stem the flow of departures. On Wednesday, the Russian Republic of North Ossetia imposed restrictions on cars coming from other parts of the country. The republic’s governor, Sergei Minyalo, said the ban began after 20,000 people crossed the border in two days.
Some European countries have already imposed border restrictions with Russia, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which have closed their doors to most Russian citizens. On Wednesday, the Finnish government said it would adopt measures the day after to “significantly restrict” Russian travel to and through Finland, a common entry point into other Schengen countries.
On Wednesday, the US Embassy in Moscow, which had previously urged its citizens to leave Russia, reasserted its position in light of the mobilization campaign, warning that those with Russian and US citizenship could be at risk of conscription.
Russia is also trying to clamp down on citizens trying to leave the country. On Tuesday, state media reported that men waiting to flee at the Georgian border were present Summoning papers served.
But some analysts cautioned that the practical impact of the departures is likely to be limited.
“Many young Russians are leaving on a group trip from Russia,” Mick Ryan, who is Australian, said: military expert Who commented extensively on the war in Ukraine. “But millions more would not have the means to leave Russia to escape their draft notices.”
Ksenia Ivanova contributed to the report.