There were ten thousand volunteers who didn’t want to wait and volunteered to join Russia’s campaign on Ukrainian territory. The news was released this Thursday by the Reuters agency, citing a source at the Russian General Staff: in just 24 hours, thousands of men asked to go to war, responding patriotically after the announcement by Vladimir Putin, who decided on a partial mobilization to strengthen Russian ranks in Ukraine.
Moscow thus appeared to be trying to convey the idea that the mobilization ordered by Putin was not met with opposition, although the version of activists and other independent monitoring groups is not the same. Also in the last 24 hours, hundreds of cars lined up to leave Russia, in an apparent attempt to escape the forced war. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has already come to deny any exodus.
According to OVD-Info, which monitors Russian police forces, at least 1,310 people were arrested across Russia for demonstrating against recruitment into the armed forces and many even received, while still in detention, the summons to enlist.
“Information was received from 15 police stations that the detained men received a summons to the military registration and recruitment office”, released the OVD-Info in a statement. The Kremlin spokesman did not deny these calls, saying only that “it is not illegal”.
The independent Russian television station Dozhd also reported on the mobilization of journalists: Artem Kriger, a reporter for the information website SOTA, was also called to enlist after being detained while covering the anti-mobilization protests.
Putin’s decision – who, according to the Russian Defense Minister, wants to recruit around 300,000 men to strengthen his ranks in Ukraine – will have led to the flight of thousands of Russians, who seek to leave the country despite having limited choices: from Last week, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania decided to close borders to most Russian citizens with tourist visas, in response to Putin’s aggression against Kiev.
Flights sold out and borders closed
According to The Guardian, direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Turkey, Yerevan, Armenia, Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Baku, Azerbaijan – all countries that allow Russians to enter without a visa – sold out until next week. And several witnesses assured journalists in the international press that the borders between Russia and Mongolia and Georgia were experiencing exceptional transit. The same has been widely documented in Finland, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin admitting at a press conference that the government is even considering closing entries to Russian neighbors, with whom they share the longest border in the European Union, with about than 1,300 kilometers.
“The government’s will is very clear, we believe that Russian tourism [para a Finlândia] has to be stopped, as well as transit through Finland”, said Sanna Marin. “I think that the situation needs to be reassessed after yesterday’s news”, admitted the minister, referring to Putin’s mobilization.
According to the Finnish border guard, 4,824 people arrived in Finland from Russia on Wednesday, 1,691 more than on the same day last week.
The spokeswoman for the European Commission for the internal administration has already revealed that member states will discuss the possibility of granting humanitarian visas to Russians who flee the mobilization. The Baltic states, which have limited the entry of Russian citizens, have admitted they are not prepared to automatically offer asylum to those fleeing the war.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, quoted by the Guardian, that Berlin could welcome defectors from Putin’s partial mobilization.
“Deserts treated with severe repression can, as a rule, obtain international protection in Germany,” Faeser said. “Anyone who courageously opposes the Putin regime and, as a result, falls into great danger, can apply for asylum on the basis of political persecution,” the minister explained.
In addition to Germany, Czechia also commented on the reception of defectors, but in the opposite direction: to AFP, Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that those fleeing Putin’s war do not meet the criteria for receiving humanitarian visas.
“I understand that Russians are fleeing the increasingly desperate decisions taken by Putin. But those who flee their own country because they do not want to assume a duty imposed by their own state do not meet the criteria for receiving humanitarian visas,” Lipavský.w concluded.