Since Russia announced it would call up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine, crowds have continued to grow at its borders with neighboring countries. For example, Finnish border guards today spoke of a more than doubling of traffic from Russia compared to a week before. Neighboring countries of Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia also report sharply growing numbers of Russians at their borders. It is clear that these Russians do not want to fight in Ukraine.
Kazakhstan’s border guard says the situation is under “special control”. The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs appealed to its citizens’ “traditions of hospitality” as they already face rising costs of living. According to the ministry, the country’s infrastructure and services sector can meet the “challenges of migration”.
Russians flee the country en masse
Armenia and Georgia in the South Caucasus have previously reported mass arrivals of Russians. Many Russians arrive there by car, now that flights are fully booked. These destinations are especially popular because Russians in the countries concerned do not require a visa. In addition, a lot of Russian is spoken. There are also long queues at the Russian border with Mongolia, according to media reports.
Finland will remain open to Russians for the time being, although they do need a visa. The country is considering stricter visa rules and has already reduced the number of consular appointments with Russians. Prime Minister Sanna Marin said yesterday that the government is looking at ways to greatly reduce transit from Russia. The Baltic countries have already closed their borders almost completely and do not want to receive Russian deserters.
Flights are fully booked
Since the decreed partial mobilization, the prices of airline tickets that allow Russians to leave the country have risen. Many flights to destinations such as Istanbul, Dubai, Belgrade and Baku were fully booked. Yesterday several German ministers indicated that the country would receive Russian deserters.
Today, State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) said that he “certainly” does not want to send back Russian men who knock on the door of the Netherlands because they do not want to fight in Ukraine. “Because then at least we know that they will be prosecuted there.”
The Netherlands does not return Russian men
Van der Burg says that people from Russia who report here in any case are not immediately sent back in view of the situation in Ukraine and deserters certainly not. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has not yet received any reports of the latter, says the State Secretary.
At the end of June, Van der Burg decided that Russian conscripts who refuse to fight in Ukraine may stay until at least the end of 2022, a so-called moratorium. This buys the cabinet time to assess how to deal with this group. Until then, this group does not even have to apply for asylum.
Kremlin: reporting exaggerated
According to the Kremlin, reports from departing Russians have been exaggerated and there has been no mass turnout at borders and airports.
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Continued flow of departing Russians: the Netherlands ‘certainly’ will not send them back