Hundreds of Russian men fleeing to Finland after Putin’s conscription order

Within hours of Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he was introducing “partial mobilisation,” to bolster his crumbling army in Ukraine, Russian men began to flee the country in huge numbers.

Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu followed up Putin’s speech with an announcement that 300,000 reservists would be conscripted into the armed forces.

Video shot at Russia ’s border with Finland showed a tailback over 20 miles long, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men trying to get out of the country before they were called up.

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Most flights out of Russia were sold out today (Wednesday, September 21), and the few remaining available seats were priced at up to 120,000 roubles (£1,700) following Putin’s announcement.

Russian social media is full of posts from civilians who say they are leaving the country by any route they can find, with some even walking over the borders into EU countries.

Putin said said that the decision to call up reservists was necessary to “protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity” and to “liberate” Ukrainians from what he described as a “Nazi regime” in Kyiv.

Putin’s decision to call up as many as 300,000 reservists is the first such mobilisation in Russia since the Second World War.

But even if the call-up is successful, it may still not be enough.

General Sir Richard Barrons, former head of the UK forces command, told The Times: “If you look at an army as a combination of people, equipment, training and support, calling up 300,000 more troops does not give you any more equipment or a bigger ammunition stockpile or mean they are any better trained.”

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The Russian military also reportedly been offering amnesty to convicts serving long jail terms in exchange for a six-moth tour of duty in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Nuzhin, who had been serving a 24-year sentence for murder, was one of those who signed up to fight for “private military contractor” The Wagner Group.

After being captured in Ukraine said his unit was being used as “cannon fodder,” adding “If you didn’t follow instructions, they would shoot you”.

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The 55-year-old, now being held in Ukraine, believes the attack on Ukraine is an unjust war, saying “It was not Ukraine that attacked Russia, it was Putin who attacked Ukraine”

The Russian leader has also issued a wider threat to the countries supporting Ukraine with weapons, food, and other aid.

“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal — this is not a bluff,” Putin said on state television this morning.

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