Putin’s announcement to send 300,000 reservists to Ukraine has triggered the exodus of Russians. A ticket from Russia to Turkey is paid at $3,000
Tickets for flights from Russia to several countries, including Turkey and Serbia, were sold out after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of the military in the reserve to fight in the war in Ukraine, in a new turn of the conflict that has received condemnation from EU countries and concern from powers like China.
One-way flights from Russia to nearby direct destinations were sold out on the main sales pages, while the prices of flights to other destinations skyrocketed, in what seems an obvious consequence of Putin’s announcement on Wednesday to call the reservists to fight, which has caused many Russians to run to buy a ticket to leave the country in fear of a possible closure of borders, or an upcoming general mobilization of all men of fighting age.
Aviasales, the best-known flight booking portal in Russia, showed a massive increase in searches according to data obtained from Google Trends, and the Aviasalas website itself indicated that flights from Moscow to places like Istanbul (Turkey) or Yerevan (Armenia) – two destinations to which Russians can travel without a visa – had sold out this Wednesday morning after Putin’s announcement.
Turkish Airlines has also sold out all one-way flights from Moscow to destinations in Turkey such as Istanbul, Ankara or Antalya, and there is no possibility of purchasing a ticket on these routes until at least next week. Given this situation, the Turkish company has announced that it will increase the number of planes for flights from Russia in the coming days, and it does not rule out also increasing the number of flights if demand continues to be so high.
Also the Turkish private airline Pegasus confirmed that it does not have flights available at least until Sunday for the route from Moscow to Istanbul, as well as to other cities in Turkey. For its part, Air Serbia, the only European airline apart from those of Turkey that maintains flights with Russia after the sanctions imposed by the EU, has also run out of available tickets for one-way flights from Moscow to Belgrade.
$3,000 for a ticket from Russia to Turkey
In addition to direct flights, airlines flying from Russia have also been without tickets for several days for indirect flights; thus, for example, there are no flights between Moscow and Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, while the minimum price of a ticket between Moscow and Dubai is already over 5,000 dollars.
As for flights from Russia to Turkey, the average price of a ticket has risen above $1,300, more than 4 times its price just a week ago, and some Turkish Airlines flights from Russia are already selling for around of $3,000.
For now, the Russian authorities have not imposed restrictions on their citizens to travel abroad, and the Russian state airline Aeroflot has confirmed that it will not limit the sale of tickets for the time being.
300,000 reservists, and nuclear threat to Europe and NATO
The decree announced by Putin this Wednesday means that, according to the figures handled by his Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, some 300,000 reservists may be called up at first to fight on the front in Ukraine, without ruling out greater subsequent mobilization.
In addition to announcing plans to swell the ranks of the army, Putin once again issued a threat to Europe and NATO about a possible use of its nuclear force, assuring that “they will use all the means at their disposal” in the face of what he assured are threats of NATO leaders to use atomic weapons against Russia.
The Kremlin has announced that there are no plans in principle to ban reservists from leaving the country, but social media was filled immediately after the announcement with messages seeking help on how to get a plane ticket out of Russia, which is difficult because many airlines have suspended their connections with the country, which means that the few available flights skyrocket in price due to the high demand.
Some messages claim that people are already being banned from leaving Russia across the border with Georgia, while others warn that the website of the Russian state railways has collapsed. According to some reports from Serbian, Belarusian and Russian anti-war activists, there would be no flights available to fly from Russia to Belgrade until at least mid-October, while there are no flights available to Turkey, Georgia or Armenia for several days.
Before the partial mobilization announced by Putin exhausted the flights to Turkey, this country had already become, since the invasion of Ukraine, a refuge for tens of thousands of Russians – and also Ukrainians – fleeing the war and Western sanctions. Belgrade, the Serbian capital, has also become a popular destination for Russians fleeing the consequences of the conflict: it is estimated that at least 50,000 Russians have moved to Serbia since the war broke out.
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He is the “old man” of the team, as we like to call him, although he still has a long way to go. A tireless traveller, he has travelled halfway around the world… and pretends to visit the other half!! A political science graduate, he is particularly passionate about the Middle East, the Caucasus and Greece.