Russians rush to buy flights out as Putin orders callup of reservists

Illustrative: Aeroflot passenger planes are parked at Sheremetyevo airport, outside Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
Illustrative: Aeroflot passenger planes are parked at Sheremetyevo airport, outside Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

Flights out of Russia are nearly fully booked this week, airline and travel agent data shows, after President Vladimir Putin introduced a partial draft of reservists to fight in Ukraine.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says that Russia would initially mobilize some 300,000 reservists, after Putin in a televised address warned Russia would use all available military means in Ukraine.

Direct flights to cities in nearby ex-Soviet countries of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were all sold out for Wednesday, the Aviasales website popular in Russia showed.

Turkish Airlines meanwhile said on its website that flights to Istanbul, which has become an important travel hub to and from Russia, were fully booked until Saturday.

The next available AirSerbia flight to Belgrade was posted for September 26.

Google data showed that searches in Russia for “tickets” and “plane” more than doubled after 0600 GMT Wednesday, the start of Putin’s recorded televised address.

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