When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Geopolitics

How To Welcome Russians Fleeing Conscription? Europe Should Be Careful

Europe should welcome the exodus of conscientious objectors from Russia. But the conditions vary across the continent, and there needs to be some security precautions.

Russian-Georgian border

Russian nationals entering Georgia at the Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgian border.

Jacques Schuster

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Russia's President Vladimir Putin is currently suffering his greatest defeat in the battle for terrain, but also public opinion.

The Kremlin may spread as much propaganda as it likes, but the pictures of kilometer-long lines of cars at the borders and thousands of young men fleeing abroad to avoid the draft with hastily packed bags show clearly what the Russian population thinks of Moscow's war of aggression.

In this sense, one can only hope that the stream will continue to flow for a long time.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

But how should European governments deal with the mass of fleeing conscientious objectors?


It's a question that won't necessarily go away soon, especially with some likely to wind up staying for a long period if they are threatened with imprisonment, or worse, at home.

Are Russian conscientious objectors a threat?

Countries like Finland, but also the Baltic States with small populations, rightly point to the security problem that those Russians can present. They recall that many of these newcomers welcomed the war, except that now they don't want to join.

Countries like Germany and France, on the other hand, are more relaxed: they have larger populations, a tradition as countries that provide protection to refugees, and a distance from Russia that is now perceived as a blessing. The German government has already indicated that it will grant residency to conscientious objectors.

So who is right: the Western and Central Europeans — or the Eastern Europeans?

Russian-Georgian border

An aerial view of cars waiting in line on the road for the Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgian border on Sept. 28, 2022.

Valery Sharifulin/TASS

From Russia with a cautious welcome

The answer is disappointing because both sides are right.

It suits the EU to give protection to Russians seeking help. No one leaves their country lightly, giving up work and their previous life to enter a situation in which the new country does not become home, but one becomes a foreigner in their homeland. For the overwhelming most part, these people are neither collaborators nor spies.

It suits the EU to give protection to Russians seeking help.

Nevertheless, a country like Finland, with a population of about 5.5 million, cannot be expected to accept a large number of Russian refugees.

Helsinki should be allowed, within the framework of a EU conference of interior ministers, to pass on the majority of refugees to other EU members. But every Russian admitted should be subjected to strict security checks by police authorities and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Putin can be trusted to send sleepers across the borders, who, depending on Russia's needs, can also wreak havoc. In Germany, the memory remains clear of the 2019 murder of a Chechen in Berlin's Tiergarten park by Russian operatives.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

How to handle a nuclear armed pariah state is not a simple question.

North Korea And Nukes: Why The World Is Obliged To Try To Negotiate

North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Yongsan Railway Station in Seoul

Alexander Gillespie

The recent claim by Kim Jong Un that North Korea plans to develop the world’s most powerful nuclear force may well have been more bravado than credible threat. But that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.

The best guess is that North Korea now has sufficient fissile material to build 45 to 55 nuclear weapons, three decades after beginning its program. The warheads would mostly have yields of around 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the 15 kiloton bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

But North Korea has the capacity to make devices ten times bigger. Its missile delivery systems are also advancing in leaps and bounds. The technological advance is matched in rhetoric and increasingly reckless acts, including test-firing missiles over Japan in violation of all international norms, provoking terror and risking accidental war.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest

InterNations