The Russian regime is not letting grass grow on it. Shortly after the announcement by Putin and his defense minister Shoygu that 300,000 reservists must get ready for battle in Ukraine, images of the first convocation letters that fell in the mailboxes were already circulating.
READ ALSO. Who are the Russian reservists and how quickly can they be deployed in Ukraine?
The next day, the first heartbreaking images appear of men saying goodbye to their wives and children, before boarding the waiting buses. The first images are said to come from a remote village near the city of Yakutsk, in the center of the country.
Presumably they will first be transferred to a training camp, to be deployed at the front in a few weeks or months.
The announcement of the ‘partial mobilization’ led to a lot of unrest in Russia. The description in the decree of who is eligible to be called up remained vague. Are only men with a military past called up, or is it broader? The vague wording ‘military specialists’ used by Defense Minister Shoygu rather suggests the second.
Many Russians seemed to want to take flight ahead. Flights abroad were hopelessly sold out on Wednesday and search terms like ‘how do I leave Russia?’ or ‘how do I break my arm?’ were suddenly very much entered on Google. At border crossings with neighboring countries such as Finland, Georgia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, there were lengthy traffic jams.
READ ALSO. “How do I break my arm?” has been a popular search term on Google in Russia since yesterday
Protestants get conscription papers
The Kremlin said on Thursday that reports of an exodus of conscripted men from Russia were “exaggerated”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also did not deny that some protesters against the mobilization, who were detained Wednesday night, had been given conscription papers: “This is not against the law.”
But for some it was already too late to escape. A woman from the city of Kursk, not far from the border with Ukraine, who was married to a soldier, said: “They don’t let anyone out of Kursk. There are police barriers everywhere checking every car. When a man drives, they inspect; if it is a woman, they ask her to open the luggage compartment.”
Street protests already took place in dozens of major cities on Wednesday, which were quickly suppressed.
READ ALSO. Protests against mobilization erupted in many Russian cities: more than a thousand people arrested