Satellite images show traffic jams at the border as Russians flee the country following Putin's decision to send more people to fight in Ukraine




  • In World
  • 2022-09-26 20:01:30Z
  • By Business Insider
 
  • Putin last week announced the partial military mobilization of his country's reservists.

  • Many Russians have since tried to flee the country, leading to sold-out one-way flights.

  • New satellite images show long traffic lines at Russia's borders with Georgia and Mongolia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a televised address last week and announced the partial military mobilization of his country's reservists - a move that appears to have been sparked by his forces' battlefield setbacks in Ukraine.

Immediately after the announcement, many Russians - desperate to avoid being deployed into into a war that has left tens of thousands of soldiers dead or wounded in just seven months - started to flee the country in any way they could. Google searches for how to leave Russia surged, one-way plane tickets sold out, and videos began surfacing showing traffic at Russian border crossings.

New satellite images taken recently by the commercial satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies and shared with Insider on Monday show long lines of cars at crossing points along Russia's borders with Georgia and Mongolia.

The following images show trucks and cars nearing a border crossing between Russia and Georgia on Sunday.

Trucks and cars wait in a traffic jam near Russia
Trucks and cars wait in a traffic jam near Russia's border with Georgia on Sept.  
A traffic jam near Russia
A traffic jam near Russia's border with Georgia on Sept.  
A traffic jam near Russia
A traffic jam near Russia's border with Georgia on Sept.  

Maxar took satellite photos of the Khyagt border post on Russia's border with Mongolia on August 15, before Putin's announcement, and September 23, after partial mobilization was declared. Images from September show a massive increase in traffic at the border post.

Ukraine-Russia satellite
Ukraine-Russia satellite  
Ukraine-Russia satellite
Ukraine-Russia satellite  
Ukraine-Russia satellite
Ukraine-Russia satellite  

Russians have also tried to flee by crossing into Finland, which borders the country to the northwest.

Matti Pitkäniitty, a Finnish Border Guard official, said on Monday that over 8,000 Russians entered the country on Sunday, a figure double the amount that was reported on the previous Sunday, days before Putin's mobilization announcement.

Pitkäniitty said many who arrived at the border are on their way to other countries. Over 5,000 Russians left Finland on Sunday.

"Border traffic at Finnish Russian land border has remained on higher level than in previous weeks. Lots of uncertainty about the Future. Finnish Border Guard is prepared for different developments, also difficult ones," he said over the weekend.

Finland's border guard shared in an update that traffic at the country's eastern border with Russia has "remained busy since last Wednesday," the day Putin delivered his announcement.

"We do a thorough check on every arrival. We remain vigilant and prepared for any changes in the situation," Finland's border guard said, while also acknowledging that weekend traffic played a role to a certain extent in the increase.

Putin's announcement last week was a politically risky move for the Russian leader and has been met with some resistance.

After the announcement, Russians across the country took to the streets to protest the war, where many were arrested - some aggressively - by riot police. One Russian man who was called to fight even opened fire at a local enlistment office on Monday. 

Meanwhile, Russia has been pushing stop-loss measures designed to maintain its force size. Russia's lower house of parliament, for instance, recently passed legislation paving the way for soldiers who desert their units to face up to 10 years in jail, a five-year increase over past punishments. The legislation also includes indications that the penalty may apply to individuals who attempt to dodge the new mobilization order, though that remains unclear.

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