Russians Fleeing Callup Form Lines at Borders

Some nations are wary of opening their doors
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 23, 2022 4:40 PM CDT
Russians Fleeing Callup Form Lines at Borders
People get off a bus to cross the border from Russia to Finland at the Nuijamaa border checkpoint in Lappeenranta, Finland, on Thursday.   (Lauri Heino/Lehtikuva via AP)

Military-age men fled Russia in droves Friday, filling planes and causing traffic jams at border crossings to avoid being rounded up to fight in Ukraine following the Kremlin's partial military mobilization. Queues stretching for 6 miles formed on a road leading to the southern border with Georgia, according to Yandex Maps, a Russian online map service. The lines of cars were so long at the border with Kazakhstan, the AP reports, that some people abandoned their vehicles and proceeded on foot—just as some Ukrainians did after Russia invaded their country on Feb. 24.

Meanwhile, dozens of flights out of Russia—with tickets sold at sky-high prices—carried men to international destinations such as Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Serbia, where Russians don't need visas. Among those who reached Turkey was a 41-year-old who landed in Istanbul with a suitcase and a backpack and plans to start a new life in Israel. "I'm against this war, and I'm not going to be a part of it. I'm not going to be a murderer," he said. Some Russian men fled to neighboring Belarus, Russia's close ally. But that carried risk. The independent Nasha Niva newspaper in Belarus reported that security services were ordered to track down Russians fleeing the draft, find them in hotels and rented apartments, and report them to Russian authorities.

Some European officials view fleeing Russians as security risks. They hope that by not opening their borders, it will increase pressure against President Vladimir Putin at home. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said Thursday that many of those fleeing "were fine with killing Ukrainians. They did not protest then. It is not right to consider them as conscientious objectors." The one EU country that is still accepting Russians with Schengen visas is Finland, which has an 830-mile border with Russia. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week.

(Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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