Vladimir Putin’s Military Draft Causes Mass Fleeing

Ava Stuzin, News Editor

On Sept. 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a partial military mobilization of 300,000 Russian men to fight in the ongoing war in Ukraine. However, on March 8, Putin’s commitment to not introduce conscriptionmandatory enrollment for service in the country’s military— proved false with the new announcement. 

The draft order has sparked widespread anti-war protests in Russia since the start of the invasion in February. Those selected for the enlistment include men aged 18-27 with no health problems and no previous criminal offenses.  

“Russia is a much larger country than Ukraine and so they have to use their advantage. Right now, they are not using their advantage and that’s manpower, so they need as many guys as possible. Lately, according to the news, it doesn’t look that good for Russia; it looks like they have lost a lot of territory, so if they hope to regain it, they’re going to need the men to do it,” Miami Palmetto Senior High Advanced Placement European History teacher Daniel Corradino said.

Since the draft announcement, many Russian men have been fleeing the country to safety and to avoid the draft. More than 194,000 Russians have fled to neighboring countries such as Kazakhstan and Georgia. Since the announcement, nearly 10,000 Russians have left for Kazakhstan. Additionally, at least 10,000 have crossed through Georgia each day, doubling the number of people fleeing since before the mobilization.

Plane tickets to countries with visa agreements with Russia have sold out almost immediately after Putin’s announcement, with seats on private jets going for as much as $27,000.Shortly after plane tickets sold out, long lines of cars formed on roads leading to the border creating wait times of at least 12 hours to enter Georgia.

Volunteers in Kazakhstan have set up welcome tents close to the central railway station, offering Russians water, food and new SIM cards. Local leisure activity spots, such as movie theaters, have also transformed into shelters for over 200 people.

Those who have not escaped to Kazakhstan have gone to Turkey. Once a popular destination for tourists, Turkey has now turned into a Russian safe zone.

Other neighboring countries, such as Finland, have shut down their borders in response to the surge of fleeing Russians. Nine countries that are a part of the European Union: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Belgium, Slovakia, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have made the decision to close their borders before the mobilization was announced. 

“As a sovereign nation, those countries can do what they want to do. Each nation acts in their own self-interest for humanitarian reasons. Those countries maybe hope to see the regime in Russia become weaker that they may not continue the war in Russia. Those countries are also close to Russia and what’s to prevent Russia from going against them,” Corradino said.

The EU has also established policies discouraging Russians from traveling out of the country. For instance, the EU has increased the maximum wait time for a visa approval from 15 days to 45 days.