BERLIN, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Russians have been pushing across the border into neighboring countries since President Vladimir Putin announced on September 21 a partial mobilization for the war in Ukraine.
Here’s a guide on how many people have crossed the border and how countries are responding:
HOW MANY HAVE FLEEED RUSSIA SINCE MOBILIZATION WAS ANNOUNCED?
It’s difficult to get exact figures, but the number of Russians who have left the country could be in the hundreds of thousands based on media reports and figures released by neighboring states. The figures are not usually disaggregated, so the figures may include men subjected to military service, family members and other travelers.
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The independent Novaya Gazeta Europe reported on September 26, citing a Kremlin source, that 261,000 men had left since the mobilization was declared. The report has been independently verified.
Airline ticket data has pointed to a wave of departures. The number of one-way tickets sold from Russia increased by 27% from September 21-27 compared to the previous week, according to the Spanish company ForwardKeys, which analyzes booking reservations.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Russia plans to recruit 300,000 troops and said on October 4 more than 200,000 people had been drafted so far.
WHERE DO MOST OF THEM GO?
Some travel to Kazakhstan, which shares the world’s second-longest land border with Russia. Russians can enter without a passport or visa.
Kazakhstan’s interior minister said on October 3 that more than 200,000 Russians had entered the country since September 21, while about 147,000 had left during the same period, although their final destination was not clear.
The Interior Ministry of Georgia, where Russians can enter without a visa, said that from September 21 to 29, 68,887 Russians arrived, while 45,624 departed.
For both countries it was unclear how many of the Russians who had left had traveled to third countries.
ForwardKeys air travel booking data reported a triple-digit increase in one-way tickets from Russia to Tbilisi, Almaty, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Dubai for the week ended September 27.
Turkey, a popular tourist destination for Russians and others, has reported a surge in Russian arrivals and flights since the mobilization announcement. A man told Reuters he flew to Istanbul Airport the next day, partly to avoid conscription.
About 3 million arrived in Turkey from Russia by the end of August this year, up 22% year-on-year, official data shows.
Many Russians also went to Europe.
HOW MANY GET INTO THE EU OR OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES?
The European Union saw a spike in arrivals following Putin’s announcement. Some 66,000 Russian nationals entered the bloc from September 19-25, a 30% increase from the previous week, data from the bloc’s border agency, Frontex, showed.
The number fell to 53,000 in the week beginning September 26, Frontex said, citing a stricter EU visa policy and Russian measures to prevent military-age men from leaving the country.
Most Russians entering the EU already had residence permits or visas, while others had dual citizenship, Frontex said.
Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (800 miles) border with Russia, was the main arrival point in the EU. Finnish data shows that the number of Russian tourists arriving through four southern border crossings doubled in the days after September 21.
From September 21 to October 5, 59,975 Russians arrived in Finland via the four checkpoints, many of whom departed for other European countries, while 36,116 Russians went home, Finnish Border Patrol Agency data showed on October 5.
HOW ARE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES REACTING?
On September 19, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland began turning away Russians on tourist visas issued by one of the EU’s Schengen countries. Finland followed suit on September 30th.
Norway’s Arctic border with Russia is the last direct route to Europe open to Russian Schengen tourist visa holders. Norway’s justice minister said on September 30 that the government could ban further arrivals from Russia at short notice if necessary.
Since the beginning of the mobilization, the German embassies in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Belarus have received a wave of requests from Russian citizens wishing to travel to Germany and the EU.
An Interior Ministry spokesman told Reuters the German constitution enshrines the right to political asylum, but said: “Due to this case-by-case assessment and the severely restricted opportunities to enter Germany from Russia, we assume there are few cases.” “
A French minister said France will also be selective about who would be allowed to stay in the country, taking into account a person’s situation and the security risk.
“We will make sure that dissident journalists, people fighting the regime, artists and students can still come here,” junior minister for European affairs Laurence Boone said on October 5.
(Corrected story to clarify that paragraph 20 of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland turned away Russians holding EU tourist visas. The previous version incorrectly stated that these countries no longer issued tourist visas .)
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Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York, Caleb Davis in Gdansk, Alexander Ratz in Berlin, Joanna Plucinska, Olzhas Auyezov, Jake Cordell, Terje Solsvik, Essi Lehto, Geert De Clercq, Jonathan Spicer; writing from Rachel More and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Edmund Blair
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