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Flights Out of Russia Fill Quickly as Putin Announces Military Mobilization

Vladimir, a passenger from the Moscow-Belgrade flight operated by Air Serbia, speaks to the media at the airport in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. AP
Vladimir, a passenger from the Moscow-Belgrade flight operated by Air Serbia, speaks to the media at the airport in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. AP

Large numbers of Russians rushed to book one-way tickets out of the country while they still could Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of military reservists for the war in Ukraine.

Flights filled up quickly and the prices of tickets for remaining connections skyrocketed, apparently driven by fears that Russia’s borders could soon close or that Putin could later announce a broader call-up that might send many Russian men of fighting age to the war’s front lines.

Tickets for the Moscow-Belgrade flights operated by Air Serbia, the only European carrier besides Turkish Airlines to maintain flights to Russia despite a European Union flight embargo, quickly sold out for the next several days. The price for flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai increased within minutes before jumping again, reaching as high as 9,200 euros ($9,119) for a one-way economy class fare.

Putin’s decree stipulates that the amount of people called to active duty will be determined by the Defense Ministry. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised interview that 300,000 reservists with relevant combat and service experience initially would be mobilized.

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