Despite Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcing that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was ”ready to end the war in Ukraine,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that a total of 300,000 reserve soldiers with military experience had been summoned back to active duty.
The measure reaches primarily those with combat experience and a military specialty, according to Russian news service Tass.
In response to that measure, large numbers of Russians who fear they might be next in line to return to the army have been reported to have booked one-way tickets out of the country as flights filled up quickly while prices soared.
Air Serbia, the only European carrier besides Turkish Airlines to maintain flights to Russia despite a European Union flight embargo, sold out for the next several days, The Associated Press said.
The price for flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai increased within minutes, reaching as high as €9,200 for a one-way economy class fare, AP added.
According to Putin’s decree, the number of people drafted back into the armed forces will be up to Defense Ministry.
There were also reports of traffic jams at the land border with Finland as citizens seek to flee Russia following Putin's televised message calling for a partial mobilization of his country.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Putin said.
“Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind patterns can also turn in their direction,” he added.
Reports of panic spread and flooded social media.
Some people have already been turned back from Russia’s land border with Georgia and the website of Russia's state-run railway company collapsed.
According to AP, social networks in Russian also surged with advice on how to avoid the mobilization or leave the country.
Belgrade has become the main destination for Russians trying to avoid the war since they are not required a visa to enter the only European country which has not joined Western sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Shoigu insisted his country was at war not so much with Ukraine and the Ukrainian army as with the collective West, with NATO, or vice versa - with NATO and with the collective West.
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