The price of flights to leave Russia soars after the mobilization decree to go to the front | International

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The Russians are still trying to assimilate that Ukraine is not a war fought by others and that the decisions of their leader, Vladimir Putin, also concern them. The mobilization decree signed by the president this Wednesday has caused confusion and panic among many Russians. As the hours passed, there were fewer and fewer options to leave the country.

Fear has snowballed as flights out of the country have sold out and citizens have assimilated the Russian leader’s message. Barely an hour after Putin addressed his citizens for the first time since the beginning of the offensive, to tell them that some of them will necessarily go to the front, the tickets for this Wednesday from the Russian capital to Turkey (Istanbul), Azerbaijan ( Baku) or Armenia (Yerevan) had sold out. After a few hours, there was no longer the possibility of traveling neither in the next few days, nor to other destinations where Russians do not need a visa, such as the countries of Central Asia.

The airline Siberian Airlines (S7), for example, had all its flights from Moscow full to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, until September 26; from other Russian cities there were tickets, but very few and at prohibitive prices. Leaving from St. Petersburg to the capital of Armenia cost 193,000 rubles, more than 3,000 euros at the exchange rate.

On the other hand, they will also not be able to leave the country through the Baltic countries, except for Finland, because these nations decided to close their borders to all Russians as a result of the war in Ukraine, even those who have a Schengen visa for the entire European area of free movement. “Latvia will not issue humanitarian or other visas to those Russian citizens who avoid mobilization,” warned Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

Major Russian carriers, including flag carrier Aeroflot, as well as Russian Railways (RZHD), say they have not been instructed to stop selling tickets abroad to potential reservists. “I have the military file, although I did not serve. I bought the ticket with Aeroflot yesterday and they have not asked me anything. Neither the reason for the trip, nor how much money I have. More or less as always”, was the testimony of a 34-year-old man, and with many ballots for the mobilization, collected by a Telegram channel created at the beginning of the war to help citizens with options to leave the country.

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Putin’s decree has caused much confusion due to its lack of definition. The text does not specify who will be called by the Army and part of the task will fall to each regional government. “I think that the mobilization only affects those who have military experience,” a citizen who prefers to remain anonymous told this newspaper. Another Russian contact declined to comment for now because this Wednesday he began the trip to Dushanbe. Many thought that the call from the recruitment offices would only reach veterans of conflicts such as Syria, but as the legal text is written, anyone who has done military service can be summoned.

The information is little. A platform of lawyers and human rights activists (Call to Conscience) He recalled that current Russian legislation protects people “whose beliefs or religion are incompatible with military service” so that they can apply for alternative civil service. “This also applies to the mobilization period,” the organization added in a statement.

The news has been so unexpected that even the Moscow Stock Exchange collapsed more than 10% this day, despite the crisis in which it has been immersed since the war began and the forcefulness of previous measures such as sanctions on its companies.

The wave of panic is reminiscent of that experienced in the first days of the offensive on Ukraine. Thousands of Russians then left the country fearing that the border would be closed and they would not be able to escape. However, a large part returned later due to a false sense of tranquility and because they did not have the means to live abroad.

The same thing happens with mobilization. The spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitri Peskov, has warned that the call-up will not be instantaneous and that the 300,000 soldiers that the Defense Ministry says it wants to mobilize could be called in the future, so the fleeing Russians could be mobilized on his return. In addition, the State Duma approved on Tuesday a series of amendments that include jail time for those reservists who do not attend their summons.

Likewise, the decree was approved with one point, the seventh, completely deleted from the document. Peskov did not explain its content and limited himself to promising that the figure will not be higher than the one announced by the authorities. One more promise. On March 5, Putin assured that they would not resort to “neither conscripts nor reservists.” “They are not and will not be employed in this military operation. I presume that our Army will solve all the tasks that arise, ”he assured him then.

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