Escape routes close for Russian men dodging Putin’s call-up
The Russian republic of North Ossetia has imposed restrictions on cars arriving from elsewhere in Russia as men try to avoid the draft.
Queues of more than 3,000 vehicles were reported at the Verkhny Lars border with Georgia.
Russia has set up a temporary draft office at Verkhny Lars to issue draft papers to reservists barred from leaving Russia. Security personnel and armoured vehicles have also been reported near the border.
Men trying to board flights have purportedly been handed draft papers at Russian airports.
The North Ossetian governor Sergei Menyailo said the ban was being introduced after 20,000 people crossed into Georgia in two days.
“We will not be physically able to ensure order and security if this flow continues to grow,” Menyailo posted on the Telegram messenger app.
He said the restrictions would not apply to residents, tourists or to those heading north from Georgia or South Ossetia, which Russia seized in the brief 2008 war.
Protests have been reported in Georgia with demonstrators waving Ukrainian flags near the border.
Georgia grants a year’s access to Russians without a visa.
There are no direct flights between Russia and Georgia and Verkhny Lars, at a remote mountain pass, is the only open border crossing.
Finland, which requires Russians to have a visa to cross its 1,300km border with Russia, is closing its frontier after reporting an increase in traffic.
Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told the media on Thursday that the mobilisation had a “significant impact” on its decision to close the border.
“The decision aims to completely prevent the current situation of Russian tourism to Finland and the related transit through Finland,” he said.
Russians with European Schengen tourist visas will also be banned from entering Finland.
Vladimir Putin announced a mobilisation of 300,000 reservists last week amid a manpower crisis for his armed forces in Ukraine.
The British Foreign Office has advised against travel to Russia since the February invasion and Poland, the United States, Bulgaria and Estonia this week advised their citizens to leave Russia.
More than a million Russians have travelled to the European Union since February.
Ukrainian successes are alarming the Kremlin. Picture credit: YouTube