GDANSK, Poland.– One-way flights from Russia sold out quickly on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin ordered the immediate recall of 300,000 reservists.
Putin’s announcement, made in an early morning television address, it raised fears that some men of fighting age might not be able to leave Russia.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the call would be limited to those who had experience as professional soldiersand that students and those who had only served as recruits would not be called up.
However, data from Google Trends showed an increase in searches for Aviasaleswhich is the most popular website in Russia for buying flights.
Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia, destinations that allow Russians to enter visa-free, sold out on Wednesday.according to data from Aviasales.
Some routes with stopovers, including those from Moscow to Tbilisi, were also unavailable, while the cheapest flights from the capital to Dubai cost more than 300,000 rubles ($5,000)about five times the average monthly salary.
In the direction of Istanbul, with Turkish Airlines, one of the main routes out of the country by plane since Western sanctions and the closure of European airspace, “all flights are full” until Saturday. In AirSerbia, to reach Belgrade, the next flight with available seats is for Monday 26.
The prices of domestic plane tickets to cities near the borders skyrocketed, as evidenced by the tickets offered from Moscow to Vladikavkaz for more than $750, compared to just $70 normally. On the border with Finland, for example, there was a 35-kilometer queue of cars.
Jason Corcoran, a Moscow-based journalist, tweeted on Wednesday: “As a ranking officer in the reserves, my brother-in-law would have been the first to be mobilized into Putin’s meat grinder.”
“I am glad that he has already fled to Turkey, as I suspect it is too late for others who are fighting over tickets,” he added.
It is unclear how many Russians have left the country since Putin’s invasion began on February 24.
The European Union (EU) banned air travel from the country after the invasionbut many Russians can still find ways to get in, including overland through some countries.
Four of the five EU countries that share a border with Russia – Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – began pushing back the Russians this week as part of a series of sanctionsas reported by Reuters.
AFP and Reuters agencies