President Putin's mobilisation of civilians to fight in Ukraine has sparked protests in Russia Photo: AFP
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Europe faces dilemma on Russians fleeing Putin's draft

42 Comments
By Max DELANY and Anne-Laure MONDESERT

The European Union is facing a tough balancing act over how to deal with Russians fleeing military mobilization, as some countries look to block entry and others offer possible refuge.

President Vladimir Putin's order on Wednesday calling up hundreds of thousands to fight in Ukraine appeared to send droves of Russian men scrambling for the exit in a bid to avoid going to the front lines.

Flights to countries granting visa-free entry to Russians, mainly neighboring former Soviet republics, were nearly entirely booked up despite rocketing prices, and queues were reported at some borders.

So far, the numbers coming to the EU seem modest as the bloc had already curtailed travel from Russia by banning direct flights and toughening up visa rules in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Finland -- the only member that had kept its land border open with Moscow -- reported that arrivals from Russia doubled to 6,470 the day after Putin's announcement.

But despite the small scale, the issue is stirring debate in Brussels as EU members adopt starkly differing approaches to Russians looking to escape the fighting.

The Baltic states and Poland -- which had already gone further than others in the EU by drastically restricting entry for Russians with visas -- are leading those taking a hawkish line.

"Many Russians who now flee Russia because of mobilization were fine with killing Ukrainians. They did not protest then," Latvia's foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics, wrote on Twitter.

"There are considerable security risks admitting them and plenty of countries outside EU to go (to)."

Estonia's interior minister, Lauri Laanemets, told local media, "We should not offer protection to deserters.

"That would be fundamentally contradictory to the aim of all our sanctions so far, which is the collective responsibility of Russian citizens," he said.

Finland on Friday signaled that it was taking the same track by announcing it would "significantly restrict the entry of Russian citizens" after the uptick in arrivals that followed Putin's decree.

At the other end of the spectrum, Germany signaled on Thursday that it may be ready to take in Russians fleeing conscription.

"Deserters threatened with serious repression can as a rule obtain international protection in Germany," Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

"Anyone who courageously opposes Putin's regime, and thereby falls into great danger, can file for asylum on grounds of political persecution," she said.

Berlin's softer line drew a stinging rebuke from Ukraine's ambassador, Andriy Melnyk, who insisted, "Young Russians who don't want to go to war must finally overthrow Putin."

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said on Friday that it was "monitoring" the situation, amid calls for the bloc to issue guidelines to its 27 member states over how to tackle any arrivals.

EU ambassadors are set to be briefed on the issue at an urgent meeting on Ukraine on September 26.

The EU struck a landmark agreement in March to open its doors to millions of Ukrainians -- mainly woman, children and elderly people -- fleeing the Russian invasion.

But there is far less sympathy for the Russians -- mainly young men -- who could now seek a way out, even if some argue that not giving them an escape route will end up bolstering Putin's war machine.

European diplomats warn that coming up with a common approach will be tough and the Commission appears reluctant to get involved unless the number of arrivals shoots up.

Immigration is a notoriously thorny theme in Brussels and EU nations fiercely guard their prerogative over the subject.

European law guarantees a right to claim asylum for people arriving in the bloc. But that is not automatically granted, especially if there is a security risk.

"This is an unprecedented situation," EU spokeswoman Anitta Hipper said.

When we look at the situation at the moment in terms of security, we need to take these geopolitical concerns into account and the risks to our security as well."

© 2022 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


42 Comments

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Fact check.

Nobody is being drafted.

The only people being called to duty are the reservists who willingly took the initiative to join their local reserve army and undergo weekend warrior training knowing that if Russia were threatened they would be called to service.

These aren't combat deployable troops, they'll merely be doing border patrolling in the Donbass and around Mariupol.

-38 ( +9 / -47 )

Aah, so that’s why everyone is fleeing the country, & there are protests on the streets

I think these are the real facts !

are you volunteering ?

28 ( +31 / -3 )

Russia....your end is near!

20 ( +25 / -5 )

Everything in Russia will fell apart...Putin and his mass murdering Mob will be drawn to justice, and also all his supporters and followers.

The leadership of Russia protects their own children, but send the children of their population into a war which they can never win.

I hope the Russian population will wake up now and do understand what their insane leadership are REALLY doing.

are you volunteering ?

Of course not! These idiotic Pro Russian War supporters are sitting on their sofa , in a safe country, in front of their 72 zoll TV screen, with Potato Chips, and cheering up their mass murdering Russian Idols.

I am wondering what these people would say, if Russia calls them back, back from the safe country where they are currently living, and send them to war.

21 ( +25 / -4 )

There are videos of the enlistment centers from all over Russia. Interestingly the most dramatic were from Yakutia and Chechnya, where ethnic Russians or Eastern Slavs are a minority. Young guys flooding into the enlistment centers. In Chechnya they said the already ambitious enlistment goals were filled to 254%. And Yakutia is so big, it can take still more young guys a few days to reach the centers. One must draw the conclusion that the morale is very high all over Russia.

In Sweden it's always been said that the best way to fight with the Russians is to just leave them alone, because when they are threatened, they're at their best.

-31 ( +5 / -36 )

A great opportunity for Putin to unleash agents / saboteurs to go outside of its borders and wreck havoc within Western Countries. So, little wonder, some Countries are questioning the wisdom of welcoming so many.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

These are likely staged propaganda videos. There was a big lack of volunteers before (hence the "self-mobilization calls), and now, what, everyone wants to join? It sounds fishy to me.

There are videos of the enlistment centers from all over Russia. Interestingly the most dramatic were from Yakutia and Chechnya, where ethnic Russians or Eastern Slavs are a minority. Young guys flooding into the enlistment centers. In Chechnya they said the already ambitious enlistment goals were filled to 254%. And Yakutia is so big, it can take still more young guys a few days to reach the centers. One must draw the conclusion that the morale is very high all over Russia.

24 ( +25 / -1 )

There are videos of the enlistment centers from all over Russia

not as many as the number of videos showing Russians fleeing the country, or protesting in the streets.

Young guys flooding into the enlistment centers. 

Young guys being forced into the enlistment centers. 

In Chechnya they said the already ambitious enlistment goals were filled to 254%.

thanks to shotgun tactics by the brave TikTok warriors

One must draw the conclusion that the morale is very high all over Russia.

yes, that would explain the protests & the 10’s of 1000’s of people fleeing the country

21 ( +22 / -1 )

@JTC's mention of Putin sending goons abroad, some carrying Novichok is a good reminder of the extent Putin and his autocratic ilk will go to extend their tentacles beyond Russian borders. Putin's puppet Lukashenko even had his military bering down a commercial airplane to capture a person Lukashenko feared. And still some living in democracies want to trade their freedoms inclusing freedom of movement and have their nation ruled by an autocrat and his rat thugs.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Nobody is being drafted

A few months ago, you were asking a lot of questions about the deployment of the Ukrainian Army, which you were suggesting was being held back from active fighting for reasons that you never quite made clear. Perhaps you can help shed some light on the whereabouts of the majority of the more than 1,000,000 Russian combat troops available to Mr. Putin? Is there some reason they’re being held back from fighting in Ukraine, a reason so important that Russia is required to call up 300,000 “weekend warriors” to go and be cut to pieces in their stead?

14 ( +15 / -1 )

They didn't run away or at least protest when all those attrocities were committed by those RuSSian marauders. Now they're fearing to be "drafted" with a guarantee to be returned in body-bags. Other countries do better, fighting their government in the 100.000s! Other countries were more successful in dumping their dictators. It needs more RuSSians "at home" to make the change!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Bronco,

are you serious?

Drunk Russians fighting eachother right after being "enlisted".

Others who do their best to avoid "joining" those aggressors.

More who run away (or at least try to).

And those, who still make it to the front line are looking forward to get a washing machine or a Lada as a farewll present for their parents. Coming from the poorest areas of Russia they are looking for even the smallest chance to get some money.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Russia doesn't have the resources to train and arm 300,000 new soldiers. Local militias in Donbass were being issued WWII era bolt action rifles to use. What do they plan to issue these reservists?

I would support giving fleeing Russians some sort of asylum protection.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Bronco

exactly.

antirussian campaign must continue at any cost.facts are facts however if these does not fit into "official" antirussian narrative-these are just simply skipped as media believes that everyones believes to their "min forming news" without checking of other sources...yes there were some small protests,some people runaway to other places,some people were arrested but reality is that these pictures are overplayed and reality is a little bit different.

reality is that parts of recent UA will be part of Russia in next few weeks and UA will be never back in its borders from say 1992....regardless of what USA EU or say western democracies will think about.

-20 ( +2 / -22 )

Grant visas to ones who can prove they took active part in the anti-war demonstrations.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Go to Europe. They've got plenty of space and money for migrants.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

reality is that parts of recent UA will be part of Russia in next few weeks and UA will be never back in its borders from say 1992....regardless of what USA EU or say western democracies will think about.

lol No it won't. Even if Russia attempts to administer the lands they stole from Ukraine, Ukraine will never allow it. Russian thieves in Ukraine should get used to stochastic violence, because that's exactly what will happen. Putin bit off more than he can chew and now his whole country will pay the price.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

reality is that parts of recent UA will be part of Russia in next few weeks and UA will be never back in its borders from say 1992....regardless of what USA EU or say western democracies will think about.

Won’t happen. I’ll be here in a few weeks to remind you.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Like America during the Vietnam War.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

The EU and the rest of the world should be facilitating their exodus, the more that leaves Russia the less soldiers in the battle fields.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

quote: collective responsibility of Russian citizens.

That is total BS and discredits the stance of those opposing Russia.

I am in no way responsible for the behaviour of my sordid, corrupt and incompetent government. There is nothing I can do to stop them. The Russians people are in the same situation.

quote: Young Russians who don't want to go to war must finally overthrow Putin.

That is ridiculous. Would American hippies in the 60s have had any realistic chance of overthrowing the US government to stop the Vietnam war?

Good for Germany.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I can certainly understand a ban on or reduction of tourist visas, especially for those countries bordering Russia, but I wouldn’t be opposed to asylum for proven conscientious objectors.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

One would hope little Mini-me directed these doomed conscripts to provide their own body bags. The rate they are going through them is just going to keep rising with untrained, undisciplined cannon fodder.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

GR,they could of

-17 ( +0 / -17 )

5400 dead and injured soldiers a month according to Zelensky

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

I like how the problems Russia can inflict on the West are getting less and less nefarious as it becomes weaker and weaker.

March: “We will cut off access to Russian energy and force Europe to bend to our will! Ha ha ha.”

September: “We will turn our country into such a hellhole that our young men will flee en masse, causing traffic problems at border crossings and much head awkward scratching in European capitals about what to do with them, and thereby force the West to bend to our will. Haha ha.”

11 ( +12 / -1 )

In Texas ,their is a law called the law of adverse possession,if a person squat on the land , and the owner do not challenge the possession of the land and he can legally posses the land of others legally Google Texas Law of Adverse Possession

-24 ( +0 / -24 )

the most dramatic were from Yakutia and Chechnya, where ethnic Russians or Eastern Slavs are a minority.

They should have a referendum and be allowed to secede, right? Them's the rules.

Google Texas Law of Adverse Possession

Google What Has This Got To Do With Anything.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

In Texas ,their is a law called the law of adverse possession,if a person squat on the land , and the owner do not challenge the possession of the land and he can legally posses the land of others legally Google Texas Law of Adverse Possession

OK… Russian squatters are being challenged by the land owners though. So what’s your point?

14 ( +15 / -1 )

So, because unlike Zelensky, the Russian government isn't blocking people from leaving to escape being called up for duty, the EU states are being faced with a choice between establishing a precedent that Ukrainians trapped in Zelensky's control can cite if they can make it to the border, or show those Russians who buy the European propaganda that it is propaganda.

-21 ( +1 / -22 )

Crimea was ceded to Russia legally,though under force

-25 ( +1 / -26 )

So, when the Putin mandates impact them in Russia, rather than solve the problem of an invasion themselves, they flee their own country? Only a few close leaders and Putin should be fleeing Russia, not all these people afraid of being drafted.

I would support giving fleeing Russians some sort of asylum protection.

Only if they apply in Ukraine, unarmed.

Russians in Russia are impacted by Putin's folly. Solve your problems internally, please. Stop the invasion and killing.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

the EU states are being faced with a choice between establishing a precedent that Ukrainians trapped in Zelensky's control can cite if they can make it to the border, or show those Russians who buy the European propaganda that it is propaganda.

Erm, no. Do you think EU states are going to insist that Ukraine allow its fighting men to freely leave just because Russians are fleeing?

How did you arrive at that remarkable conclusion?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Yrral

always the pro-Russia anti-Ukraine comments. Which side are you on? The invader or the defender? Thousands of Russians have been detained for protesting about the war and the call-ups.

From 24 February to 4 September 2022, OHCHR recorded 13,917 civilian casualties in Ukraine: 5,718 killed and 8,199 injured.

Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed forces, said this week at a public forum that Ukraine has lost 9,000 military personnel. Aug 24, 2022.

More than 300,000 Russian citizens and residents are estimated to have left Russia by mid-March 2022 as political refugees and economic migrants, and due to a desire to evade criminal prosecution for opposing the invasion.

Russia has lost nearly 1,300 tanks – an impressive 40% of its total operational tank fleet. 

August, DOD Policy Chief Colin Kahl said the Russians have lost between 50,000 and 70,000 service members in its war on Ukraine.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Crimea was ceded to Russia legally,though under force

There is no “legal” way to get territory “under force”. This is a fundamental principle of international law.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

Wallace,I am pro legal in establishment of the fact, Ukrainain did give up Crimea and some Donbas region,a treaty is a binding contract in law

-22 ( +2 / -24 )

Rain,tell this to the European,that negotiated the Minsk Agreement

-23 ( +1 / -24 )

Rain,tell this to the European,that negotiated the Minsk Agreement

Show me where in the Minsk agreement it says “Crimea is Russian”.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

If Russia is as bad and dystopian as Westerners claim, then protesting let alone attempting to 'overthrow' it would be suicidal. You'd literally end up dead in a ditch. So Western leaders literally expect these people to throw their lives away rather than flee. After all the 'refugees welcome' nonsense, this is a rather grotesque standard to suddenly see them take.

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

Yrral

"Ukraine agreed to lease Crimean naval facilities to Russia for 20 years until 2017, with an automatic 5 years renewal option. Russia would pay Ukraine $97 million annually for leasing Crimean bases. This payment was deducted from the cost of Russian gas provided and billed to Ukraine."

Yes, a base, not the whole of Crimea, and that contract finished this year.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

I have never had the acquaintance of a politically belligerent or aggressive Russian, mostly IT specialists are calm, with a infectious dry sense of humour.

If they are fleeing, to avoid fighting in a war with there neighbours they want nothing to do with at the very least listen to there pleas.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

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