Ukrainian intelligence officials say that thousands of Russian soldiers have contacted their surrender assistance hotline as their leader, Vladimir Putin, tries to mobilize 300,000 more troops.
The 24-hour hotlines, set up by a state project called I Want to Live, are designed to help military personnel of the Russian army safely surrender to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, according to Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Andrii Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence, said that they have received calls from not just soldiers fighting in Ukraine but those back in Russia who are worried about being drafted.
“Then we started getting phone calls not just from soldiers who were on the territory of Ukraine as part of the occupation army, but also those who had just been mobilized and were still on the territory of the Russian Federation, or their relatives, or even people who suspected that they might be mobilized and were checking just in case,” Yusov told Freedom TV.
Social media have shown draft-eligible men fleeing Putin’s attempt to deploy conscripts to fight in Ukraine, flooding airports and border checkpoints on its western border. Some 260,000 civilians fled Russia in the days following Moscow’s Sept. 21 decree while others took to the streets to protest, according to Fox News.
The phone lines provide Russians with information like what steps need to be taken to surrender and what to do if they are conscripted under Putin’s “partial mobilization,” according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.
“We have already received more than two thousand applications,” Vitaly Matviyenko, a spokesman for the surrender hotline, told the British news outlet Express.
“Both servicemen of the Russian army and their relatives who want their sons and husbands to stay alive are calling,” he added.
The U.S. Embassy in Russia has urged all Americans in the country to leave immediately, warning that Moscow might prevent U.S. citizens from leaving and that dual nationals might be conscripted into military service.