Russia’s neighboring countries report thousands of departures after Putin’s mobilization

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Countries neighboring Russia have detected a spike in human trafficking at the border since President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization of thousands of reservists, forcing them to redefine strategies and reopening the debate on the protection to be offered to those who want to avoid a potential draft.

The Russian government has estimated at up to 300,000 the reservists it expects to add to bolster its military capacity in Ukraine and, although for now it has not ordered the closure of borders for men who may be called up, it has not ruled out that this could happen in the future either.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday avoided giving the official figure for departures these days — “I do not have this figure,” he argued to the media — and also declined to comment on the possible construction of a fence on the border with Finland, according to official Russian agencies.

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The Finnish Border Guard raised on Monday the construction of a fence that would cover some 260 kilometers to reinforce the areas considered most at risk — the border stretches some 1,300 kilometers — as part of a broader plan to facilitate surveillance work.

Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen has not ruled out this possibility and has advocated that the government as a whole should study the proposal, in an interview to Yle channel. Mikkonen, however, stressed that border security is guaranteed today.

On Monday alone, more than 7,700 Russian citizens arrived in Finland, according to statistics from the Border Guard, which detects a decrease compared to the “peak” of arrivals over the weekend. “Most of them continue on to other countries,” the institution explained this Tuesday on its social networks.

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The increase in the migratory flow is also palpable in Georgia, where Russian arrivals have risen by at least 40 percent since the announcement of the mobilization. Local authorities estimate that, every day, some 10,000 Russian citizens cross into Georgian territory.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Vajtang Gomelauri, has confirmed that his government will not close the borders and will limit itself for the time being to reinforcing control tasks. At the Verjni Lars crossing, the busiest, the queues of vehicles on the other side have reached 25 kilometers, reports the British public broadcaster BBC.

Kazakhstan, for its part, has already received some 100,000 Russians since September 21. The government has also confirmed through Interior Minister Marat Akhmetzhanov that it will not extradite any Russian citizens fleeing possible enlistment, as this possibility does not figure in bilateral deportation agreements.

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