| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Russians flee to Georgia after Putin’s mobilisation order

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to mobilize hundreds of thousands of reservists for the Ukraine conflict, Russian men are fleeing into neighboring Georgia to avoid being called up to serve in a war with which they disagree.

According to local officials, the anticipated wait time to enter Georgia reached 48 hours at one point on Sunday, with more than 3,000 vehicles queued to pass the border.

According to government figures, the Georgian capital Tbilisi has already experienced an influx of about 40,000 Russians since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.

“When we heard out about the mobilization, we left everything at home and rushed in the car,” Dmitry Kuriliyunok, a Reuters correspondent in Tbilisi, said.

Dmitry, his wife Irina, and their little daughter initially traveled from Krasnodar to Mineralnye Vody in the North Caucasus, a staging point for many people entering into Georgia. They hired a local driver to take them through the border checks and landed in Tbilisi after 24 hours.

The exact number of people who have left Russia since Putin announced what he called a “partial mobilisation” last Wednesday is unclear. But an early picture is emerging of a substantial exodus.

Scenes such as those at the Russia-Georgia border have also taken place at crossings with Kazakhstan, Finland and Mongolia, which have all reported heavy queues. Russia has not closed its borders, and guards generally appeared to be letting people leave.

Flights departing Moscow for the few countries that maintain direct flights with Russia have either sold out or have only a handful of tickets available at astronomical prices.

  • Reuters