Russians scrambling to book flights out of the country after Putin troop announcement

Flights leaving Russia are selling out or skyrocketing in price on Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists amid the nation’s struggles in its war with Ukraine.

The United States and many European countries have banned flights originating in Russia after it invaded Ukraine, but flight options heading to other countries, such as Serbia and the United Arab Emirates, are quickly drying up as some Russians look to exit the country.

Air Serbia’s flights from Moscow to Belgrade are sold out through Oct. 9 as of Wednesday morning, although options and prices have continued to change rapidly throughout the day.

Air Arabia’s flights from Moscow to Istanbul are sold out through next Thursday, and those options still available cost the equivalent of $796 — far higher than typical prices, according to Google Flights data.

Azerbaijan Airlines, which also operates flights from Moscow to Istanbul with a connection in Baku, Azerbaijan, lists its prices for one-way tickets above $1,000 until next week.

The apparent exodus of thousands of Russians comes after the Kremlin earlier on Wednesday said up to 300,000 individuals could be called to join the country’s military as it faces major setbacks in Ukraine.

Some Russians too left the country in the days following its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The announcement marks the first time Russia has called up another round of troops since World War II.

“He’s got desertion problems and he’s forcing the wounded back into the fight,” John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said of Putin on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “So clearly, manpower is a problem for him.”

As some Russians attempt to book flights out of the country, others are fleeing through land borders.

Freelance journalist Sotiri Dimpinoudis posted a video on Twitter of what he described as a traffic jam on the Russia-Finland border following Putin’s announcement.

The Associated Press reported some Russians said they had been turned back from the country’s border with Georgia.

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