Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Russians rush for flights out amid partial military reservist call-up

Published:Wednesday | September 21, 2022 | 2:00 PM
Vladimir, a passenger from the Moscow-Belgrade flight operated by Air Serbia, speaks to the media at the airport in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, September 21, 2022. Large numbers of Russians rushed to book one-way tickets out of the country while they still could after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of military reservists for the war in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Large numbers of Russians rushed to book one-way tickets out of the country while they still could Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation of military reservists for the war in Ukraine.

Flights filled up quickly and the prices of tickets for remaining connections sky-rocketed, apparently driven by fears that Russia's borders could soon close or of a broader call-up that might send many Russian men of fighting age to the war's front lines.

Tickets for the Moscow-Belgrade flights operated by 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 price for flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai increased within minutes before jumping again, reaching as high as 9,200 euros ($9,119) for a one-way economy class fare.

Putin's decree stipulates that the amount of people called to active duty will be determined by the Defence Ministry.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised interview that 300,000 reservists with relevant combat and service experience initially would be mobilised.

Russia has seen a marked exodus of citizens since Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine almost seven months ago.

During the early morning address to the nation in which the president announced the partial mobilisation of reservists, he also issued a veiled nuclear threat to Russia's enemies in the West.

Reports of panic spreading among Russians soon flooded social networks. Anti-war groups said the limited airplane tickets out of Russia reached enormous prices due to high demand and swiftly became unavailable.

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