Flights Out Of Russia: A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for mobilization, for the first time since World War II, one-way tickets from Russia sold out rapidly and ticket prices skyrocketed. Media reports said the president’s address raised fears that martial law might be imposed and that men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave Russia.
A clip shared by global flight tracking service FlightRadar24 showed one-way flights originating from Russia after Google Trends data showed a spike in searches for Aviales, Russia’s most popular website for shopping for flights, Reuters reported.
AFP reported that flights out of Russia were almost completely booked this week, airline and travel agent data showed on Wednesday. Flights between Russia and the European Union have been suspended after Putin announced Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Putin announced “partial mobilization” yesterday, calling for 300,000 reservists in a major escalation of his invasion of Ukraine.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all our means to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said in a televised national address on Wednesday. “It’s not a hoax.”
Large numbers of Russians rushed out of the country on Wednesday to book one-way tickets after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of military reservists for the war in Ukraine.
Flights filled up quickly and ticket prices for the remaining connections skyrocketed, apparently driven by fears that Russia’s borders might close sooner or Putin could later announce a broader call-up that could lead to war could send many Russian men to fight on the front lines of the
Tickets for Moscow–Belgrade flights operated by Air Serbia, the only European carrier other than Turkish Airlines to maintain flights to Russia despite an EU flight ban, sold out quickly for the next several days. Prices for flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai soared minutes before jumping again, reaching 9,200 euros ($9,119) for one-way economy class fares.
Putin’s decree stated that the number of people called on active duty would be determined by the Ministry of Defense. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised interview that 300,000 reservists with relevant combat and service experience would be mobilized initially.
Russia has seen a remarkable exodus of civilians since Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine nearly seven months ago. During Putin’s address to the nation on Wednesday, in which he announced a partial mobilization of reservists, he also issued an implicit nuclear threat to Russia’s enemies in the West.
News of panic spreading among Russians soon spread on social networks. Anti-war groups said limited plane tickets outside Russia led to high demand at high prices and became increasingly unavailable. Social networks in Russian abound with advice on how to avoid mobilization or leave the country.
Some of the postings alleged that people had already been turned back from Russia’s land border with Georgia and that the state Russian Railway Company’s website had been demolished as too many people were investigating ways to get out of the country. Were.
More than 800 Russians were arrested Wednesday in anti-war demonstrations in 37 Russian cities, including Moscow and St Petersburg, the OVD-Info monitoring group said. Protesters in Moscow called “Not for War!” Slogans and “Life for our children!”
Russian officials sought to placate the public, emphasizing that the call-up would affect a limited number of people who met certain criteria. However, conflicting statements and lack of details helped fuel the panic.
The head of the Duma’s defense committee, Andrei Kartpolov, said on the basis of this mobilization there would be no additional restrictions on the release of reservoirs from Russia. But he also advised individuals who may be eligible for a call-up against “travel to resorts in Turkey”.
Russian media quoted Kartpolov as saying, “Spend your holidays in resorts in Crimea or (in Russia’s southern) Krasnodar Territory.”
A group based in Serbia, called Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Serbs Together Against War, tweeted that as of mid-October there were no flights available from Russia to Belgrade. According to the Belgrade-based group, flights to Turkey, Georgia or Armenia were also sold out.
“All the Russians who wanted to go to war were already gone,” the group said. “No one else wants to go there!”
A Russian man named Sergei said he had prepared for a Russian mobilization scenario and quickly brought his 17-year-old son out of Russia.
“The tickets didn’t cost much, because I was probably early enough. And we got right through the border,” he said on Wednesday upon arrival at the airport in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.
His son, Nikolai, said “I haven’t received a letter from the recruiting office yet” but he was still researching possible waivers, “so off we go.” He declined to give his last name.
Serbia’s capital Belgrade has become a popular destination for Russians during the war. More than 50,000 Russians have fled Serbia since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and many have opened businesses, particularly in the IT sector.
Russians do not need a visa to enter Serbia, which has not joined Western sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. Allies such as Belarus and China have also not imposed sanctions on Russia.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who often boasts about his friendly relations with Putin, said the price of a Moscow-Belgrade ticket had reached 9,000 euros “on the black market” because of “mobilization and some other things.”
He also said that “Putin would not surrender despite advances by the Ukrainian military,” adding that the West expected a complete defeat of Russia, but that mobilization would make it difficult.
A Wednesday flight from Moscow to Belgrade was packed with young Russian men who said they could not speak to reporters because they feared negative consequences for the families they left behind. A Russian woman, who identified herself as Yulia, said she also feared “my government and the police” might see her remarks.
“But I want to say, ‘Freedom for Ukraine.’ Please, someone stop Putin,” she said.
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