Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a massive conscription drive is leading some Russians to leave the country, in an attempt to avoid being drafted for the ongoing war with Ukraine.
The Russian defense ministry is preparing to conscript some 300,000 men for army duty, after President Putin announced Wednesday that the country would undertake a “partial mobilization.”
"I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff to conduct partial mobilization in the Russian Federation," Putin said.
The announcement sparked anti-war protests Wednesday in 38 cities across Russia.
More than 1,300 demonstrators – including a number of men ordered to report to army duty - were arrested, though organizers have vowed more protests will be held over the weekend.
The mass conscription, Russia’s largest since World War II, has sent airplane ticket prices soaring as Russia’s look to avoid the draft abroad, Reuters reported Thursday.
One-way flights to the nearest destinations rose above $5,000, with most flights over the next few days sold out.
Outgoing traffic from Russia at border crossings to Finland and Georgia also rose dramatically following Putin’s announcement Wednesday.
"Every normal person is (concerned)," one traveler, named Sergey, who flew from Moscow to Belgrade told Reuters. "It is OK to be afraid of the war."
The Kremlin rejected claims of a mass exodus of citizens following the mobilization announcement.