Russia’s neighbors — from Finland in the west to Mongolia 3,100 miles (5,076 km) to the east — are being flooded with the arrival of men fleeing the national draft announced last week as Moscow's invasion of Ukraine falters. Some 2,000 miles to the south of Helsinki, at the border with Georgia, there are reports of long lines of cars and bicycles trying to leave and Russian crackdowns on men trying to flee.
In the first two days after Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization, 261,000 men of conscription age have left the country. Observers believe that has likely doubled since. The most popular destinations are the neighboring countries where one can enter without a visa or even without an international passport, such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia.
But Finland too has reported a major uptick, with nearly 19,000 arriving, compared to 9,000 crossing in the opposite direction. "The arrival rate is about double what it was a week ago," Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border guard told AFP.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Finland may soon prohibit entry of Russians, while the country's Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen suggested that Putin's mobilization gave grounds for a more rigid Europe-wide policy on visas for Russians.
The Baltic states announced a prohibition on Russians entering with tourist visas even before the mobilization was announced.
So far, the most welcoming to Russians fleeing from mobilization are Kazakhstan, whose president has declared the need to support people who do not want to fight, while Germany has also offered its support.
Despite the exodus, Putin still has not announced the closure of borders on Russia’s side. Yet Russian airports and checkpoints on the international border have started to receive lists of conscripts to prevent them from fleeing the country.
Russia Denies It Is Hunting For Fleeing Men At Georgia Border
Satellite images show a large traffic jam of cars attempting to cross the border into Georgia following Putin's announcement of mass mobilization
As men try to flee Russia in light of the partial mobilization announced by President Vladimir Putin, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has deployed soldiers and an armored personnel carrier to the country's border with Georgia.
Russian news outlets have reported that Putin is attempting to block draft-eligible men from leaving the country, but the FSB border department has said that checkpoints are running normally and authorities do not intend to stop male citizens from leaving the country.
"The armored vehicle is moving there, but it is not moving to set up a checkpoint; it is, roughly speaking, a reserve for any unforeseen cases," the border department said.
Russian media outlet Meduza reported that a travel ban will be put into place by the Kremlin as early as Wednesday, after ongoing referendums are finalized in the four occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Mobilization On Spanish Front Page
Spanish daily ABC features new draftees lining up and reports that Putin may be set to close the border. — ABC
Protests Break Out In Dagestan, Predominantly Muslim Region Of Russia
\u201cHundreds of women in Russia's Far Eastern city of Yakutsk protested against mobilization by surround the police and performing the osuokhai (Sakha folk dance) chanting \u201cNo to genocide!\u201d and "No to war!"\n\n(via @mediazzzona)\n\nhttps://t.co/lEVKGfBKUy\u201d— Max Fras (@Max Fras) 1664088659
Protests in Russia’s region of Dagestan have broken out following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization orders. Dagestan is predominately Muslim and activist groups and Ukrainian officials are saying these minorities are being disproportionately targeted for conscription in the war.
“Since mobilization started, we are actually seeing a much greater push to get people from those (ethnic minority) republics to go to war,” said Anton Barbashin, the editorial director at Riddle Russia, an online journal on Russian affairs.
Videos on social media show women in the capital chanting “No to war” around police officers. In other confrontations, police can be seen pushing back and violently detaining protesters.
The protests come after Putin declared last Wednesday that 300,000 reservists would be drafted. Anti-mobilization protests have spread across the country, with more than 2,350 people arrested since, according to OVD-Info.
Final Day Of Voting Referendums, Putin May Announce Annexation On Friday
Detainees vote in a Kherson Region referendum on joining Russia
Tuesday is the final day to vote on the so-called popular referendums on joining Russia in the eastern regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Nearly four million people are called on by pro-Russian forces to attend polling stations to vote. This comes after four days of intimidation where armed guards and election officials went house to house to make people vote, in an election the international community has largely denounced as a sham.
All but guaranteed to pass, the proposed annexation would include up 15% of Ukraine’s territory, and could take the war to a more dangerous level as Moscow will view any attempt by Ukraine to regain land as an attack on its sovereign territory.
Russian President Vladimir Putin may announce the region’s annexation on Friday at a joint session of Russia’s parliament according to the UK defense ministry.
“Unprecedented” Gas Leaks Hit Nord Stream Pipelines, Sabotage Suspected
Nord Stream 2 - natural gas pipeline from Russia
Sweden's Maritime Authority is warning that two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have been discovered, after finding another leak on the Nord Stream 2, raising suspicion of sabotage.
The damages are "unprecedented", said the pipelines’ operator Nord Stream AG: "It is not yet possible to estimate the timing of the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure", it added. Russia said it was “extremely concerned” about the situation.
Danish authorities reported that the NS2 pipeline had started to leak in the Baltic Sea and a prohibitive zone had been implemented around the area. While Denmark's energy ministry does not expect "consequences for the security of Danish gas supply", there could be an environmental impact if the gas pumped in the pipes were to be released in the atmosphere.
The pipelines, which were designed to deliver Russia’s energy supplies to Western Europe, have been at the core of the energy war between the West and Moscow since the beginning of the Ukraine war. Energy prices are rising as Russia uses its supplies as political leverage and Europe tries to find alternatives to Russian gas.
Are Russians Using Drones Because They’ve Run Out Of Rockets?
\u201cThis evening, Iranian kamikaze drones were again seen over Odessa. At least one was shot down\n#Ukraine\u201d— Special Kherson Cat \ud83d\udc08\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Special Kherson Cat \ud83d\udc08\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1664220763
Russians deployed seven Iranian-made ‘kamikaze’ drones toward Odessa, which the Ukraine military says it intercepted. With such drone attacks becoming increasingly frequent, experts from the Conflict Intelligence Team, an independent Russian organization, suggest that this may indicate that Russia has very few missiles and artillery rockets left.
"A drone does not carry enough charge to blow up a building, for example,” said Ruslan Leviev of CIT. “The fact that such an important target as the headquarters of the Ukrainian Forces Command South, which is located in Odessa, was struck by a drone indicates that the calibers (cruise missile) have either run out completely or that there are minimal numbers of them left."
Snowden Gets Russian Citizenship, Won’t Have To Serve
\u201cAfter years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS.\n\nAfter two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them\u2014and for us all.\u201d— Edward Snowden (@Edward Snowden) 1664222775
Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted Edward Snowden Russian citizenship. Snowden, a U.S. citizen, is accused of espionage as well as theft of government property in the U.S. for passing to the media classified information on mass surveillance in American intelligence programs. He has been living in exile in Moscow since 2013, and faces 30 years in prison in the U.S.
In 2020, Snowden and his wife Lindsay Mills, applied for Russian citizenship after being given permanent residency in Russia. Putin’s decision to grant Snowden citizenship comes after the Russian President announced the partial mobilization of citizens to fight in Ukraine.
Snowden is not subject to the “partial mobilization” announced by Putin since he did not serve in the Russian army, according to his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, as quoted by Russian state media RIA Novosti on Monday.