Putin announces partial mobilisation of men to join the Russian army

Updated: Oct 22

Thousands of Russians have scrambled to leave the country after Putin announced a civilian draft last week. Fearing a call to fight the Ukraine war, Russian men buy a one-way ticket and try to reach the EU.⁣

On 21st September, Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation of men with previous military experience as the number in the Russian army dwindled. In addition, 300000 reservists have also been called up to fight in Ukraine. This is the first mobilisation call for Russia since the Second World War. Protests have broken out across the country, and around 1000 anti-mobilisation protestors have been arrested. The media have reported that some of the protestors were served with draft papers.⁣

Men are now trying to leave Russia to avoid being sent to war. They have bought tickets to regions where they can travel without a visa, such as Armenia and Turkey, from where they plan to get an EU visa. Even men not in the reserves are fleeing due to fear of a potential complete mobilisation order. While Russian borders have not been closed yet, the neighbouring countries plan to close the land border to limit land crossing.⁣

Long queues have been reported at the land borders. At the Kazakh border, the traffic was standstill for nearly 10 hours. At the Finnish border, traffic got intensified overnight on Thursday. The Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin plans to bar Russians from entering the country. Georgian capital Tbilisi has seen an unusual influx of Russians amidst a rising anti-Russian sentiment amongst the local population. German ministers have shown willingness to take in Russians fleeing the war.⁣

Kremlin spokesperson has said the media report of fleeing men is exaggerated, and thousands have voluntarily joined the army since Wednesday. Though there have been no outright instructions against flying out, the Russian Federal Security Service is reported to have barred many men from leaving the country. Most men who have already left have claimed they do not support the war, but it had not become an issue for them until the order came. The horror of the war seems to have finally reached the Russians from within their homeland.


Photo © atlanticcouncil.org

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