On the second full day of a partial military mobilization, men of military age have joined an exodus from Russia.
by the Associated Press’s KHALIL HAMRA and MEHMET GUZEL
Turkey (AP) — Following the Kremlin’s partial military mobilization, military-aged men fled Russia in large numbers on Friday, clogging planes and causing gridlock at border crossings to avoid being rounded up to fight in Ukraine.
According to Yandex Maps, a Russian online map service, lines formed on a road leading to the southern border with Georgia that extended for 10 kilometers (6 miles).
At the Kazakhstan border, there were such long lines of cars that some travelers chose to walk instead of continuing in their cars, much like some Ukrainians did after Russia invaded their nation on February 24.
While this was going on, dozens of flights from Russia were transporting men to countries like Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Serbia, where Russians can travel without a visa.
A 41-year-old man who arrived in Istanbul with a suitcase and a backpack and plans to begin a new life in Israel was one of those who made it to Turkey.
“I don’t want to take part in this war because I oppose it. I won’t commit murder, I promise. The man, who only gave his name as Yevgeny to avoid possible retaliation against his family in Russia, declared, “I’m not going to kill people.
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, was referred to as a “war criminal” by him.
Following Putin’s Wednesday announcement of a partial military call-up, Yevgeny made the decision to leave. Up to 300,000 reserve members may be involved in total.
Some Russian men also escaped to Belarus, a close ally of Russia. But there was a risk there.
One of Belarus’s oldest independent newspapers, Nasha Niva, claimed that Belarusian security services had been instructed to find Russians evading the draft, locate them in hotels and rented homes, and then report them to Russian authorities.
Russian authorities made an effort to sooth a public that was alarmed by the draft.
A bill that would suspend or lower loan payments for Russians called to active duty was introduced by lawmakers on Friday. News organizations emphasized that draftees would be treated equally to professional soldiers in terms of status, pay, and the maintenance of their civilian employment.
According to the Defense Ministry, many people who work in high tech, communications, or finance will not be called up “to ensure the operations” of those fields,” according to a report by the Tass news agency.
The war in Ukraine is “unpopular,” according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who noted that Russians were fleeing their nation to avoid being drafted.
According to Jean-Pierre, Putin is not acting from a position of strength in what he is doing. He comes from a position of weakness.
As the exodus took place, a referendum orchestrated by the Kremlin to annex the occupied regions of Ukraine began. It was denounced as a rigged election with a predetermined outcome by Moscow by Kiev and the West.
German government representatives expressed a desire to assist Russian soldiers who were deserting their posts and they requested a European solution.
According to the spokesman for German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, “those who courageously oppose Putin’s regime and thereby put themselves in great danger can apply for asylum in Germany on the grounds of political persecution.”
Maximilian Kall, the spokesperson, stated that delinquents and those who refuse to be drafted would be granted refugee status in Germany if they are in danger of severe repression, though each case is looked at separately.
But they would first need to get to Germany, which, like other member states of the European Union, has become much more difficult for Russians to travel to and does not share a land border with Russia.
After the attack on Ukraine, the EU prohibited direct flights between its 27 member states and Russia, and it recently decided to restrict the distribution of Schengen visas, which permit unrestricted travel throughout much of Europe.
Recently, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland, four of the five EU nations that border Russia, also made the decision to refuse entry to Russian tourists.
Russian refugees are seen as a potential security risk by some European officials. They anticipate that by keeping their borders closed, domestic pressure on Putin will grow.
According to the foreign minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkevics, many of those fleeing “were fine with killing Ukrainians.” They did not object at the time. They should not be regarded as conscientious objectors.
Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, is the only member of the EU that continues to accept Russians with Schengen visas.
The number of people entering Finland from Russia has sharply increased, according to border guards in Finland. Media reports indicate a 107% increase from the previous week.
According to the Finnish Border Guard, the line of parked cars at Vaalimaa, one of the busiest border crossings, was more than half a kilometer (a third of a mile) long.
Russian men who had recently entered Finland at the Virolahti border crossing were interviewed by the Finnish broadcaster MTV, including a man named Yuri from Moscow who claimed that no “sane person” wants to go to war.
Andrei Balakirov, a Russian from St. Petersburg, claimed that he had been mentally ready to leave Russia for six months, but had postponed his departure until the mobilization.
He declared, “I think it’s a really bad thing.
A Samaranian man named Valery who was traveling to Spain concurred and referred to the mobilization as “a great tragedy.”
“It’s difficult to explain what’s going on. I have sympathy for those who are made to engage in combat against their will. It is frightening to hear reports of people receiving these orders in the middle of the street.
Frank Jordans in Berlin, Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul were among the writers who contributed to this article.
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