Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization to bolster his forces in Ukraine sparked a rush on airline websites Wednesday to try to leave Russia as quickly as possible.
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The mobilization will initially involve 300,000 reserves, but a total of 25 million Russians will be mobilized to join the army in eastern and southern Ukraine, according to the Defense Ministry.
Searches in Russia for the words “tickets” and “flight” have doubled since 0600 GMT Wednesday, according to Google Trends, a statistical tool that tracks how often the word is typed into Google. Recorded Vladimir Putin’s televised address.
The request “Leave Russia” was carried out 100 times more in the morning than in normal times.
The Belgorod region, which borders northeastern Ukraine and has been hit several times since late February by Ukrainian strikes, also tops the ranking for the place where the research was conducted.
Tickets for direct flights to the destinations closest to Russia – Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – were sold out on Wednesday, according to the Aviasales site, which is the most popular place to buy their tickets in Russia.
In the direction of Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, which has become one of the main exit routes by plane from the country since Western sanctions and the closure of European airspace, “all flights are completed” until Saturday.
At AirSerbia, the next flight with available seats is posted on Monday 26th, to reach Belgrade.
Domestic flights to cities closer to the country’s borders have also exploded, offering these tickets from Moscow to Vladikavkaz (south) for more than $750…against the usual $70.
At the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was the first exodus of Russians opposing the invasion or fearing mobilization. No official estimate has been made public, but it affected at least tens of thousands of people.
An online petition on the site change.org to condemn the assimilation gathered 160,000 signatures within hours.