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Russians cue for miles at border crossings after Putin's mobilization announcement

CA, 23 Sep 2022
Russian men rushed for the exits on Thursday after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation, with traffic at border crossings with Finland and Georgia surging and prices for air tickets from Moscow rocketing.

Traffic at the Russia-Georgia border intensified overnight, said Ivan, a Russian driver who managed to get to Georgia.

“Yesterday before midnight you could cross the border much more quickly. After midnight, either lots of cars arrived or the border guards started to work more slowly," Ivan told Reuters news service from behind the wheel of his car. He added that he and his acquaintances don't fit the age criteria for the current wave of mobilization “at the moment,” but that “We don't know what will happen next.”

Long queues of cars were also reported on Russian borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia, while Russian passengers could be found in Turkish airports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a conference call on Thursday that reports of exodus of fighting-age men from Russia were “exaggerated”.

On Wednesday, Putin ordered Russia's first mobilization since World War II and backed a plan to annex swathes of Ukraine, warning the West he was not bluffing when he said he'd be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

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