The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has recently made an announcement of a partial mobilisation to reinforce Russian army forces in Ukraine has witnessed airline websites overloaded on Wednesday as people of fighting age to try to escape the country as soon as possible.
The mobilisation earlier concerned 300,000 reservists but as per the Ministry of Defence overall 25 million Russian nationals would be eligible to join the army in the eastern region and southern region of Ukraine.
As per Google Trends, which keeps a track of how often a word is typed into Google, searches in Russia for “tickets” and “plane” have more than doubled since 6:00 GMT on Wednesday, the time of President Putin’s recorded television address.
The internet search “Leave Russia” was made 100 times more this morning than in usual times. This was especially the case in the Belgorod region, which borders northeastern Ukraine. The area has been hit many times since late February by Ukrainian strikes and topped the list for where these searches were made most.
As per Aviasales, a popular Russian ticketing website, “Tickets for direct flights to Russia’s closest destinations- Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan- are all sold out for Wednesday.
For flights to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines (one of the main air routes out of the country since Western sanctions restricted flights from Russia to Europe) “all flights are sold out” until Saturday.
At AirSerbia, the next flight to Belgrade with available seats was scheduled for Monday 26 September.
Domestic flights to cities close to the country’s borders have also seen a huge demand, with tickets from Moscow to Vladikavkaz in the south costing more than $750, compared to the usual $70.
At the beginning of the Russian offensive, there was also a huge number of Russians that opposed the invasion leaving the country. No official estimate has been made public but the number is believed to be in the tens of thousands.