Home News Desperate times: Russia tries to recruit men looking to flee

Desperate times: Russia tries to recruit men looking to flee

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President Vladimir Putin can’t get Russians to join the military — so he’s bringing the military to them.

The Russian military has set up draft offices at two border crossings in a last-ditch effort to recruit those fleeing Putin’s mobilization order.

At a North Ossetian border crossing between Russia and Georgia — where cars have been backed up for miles — independent Russian news outlets reported a mobile recruitment center in the form of a black van with “military enlistment office” written on it.

Another makeshift draft office was reported along Russia’s northern border, at a crossing with Finland.

Young Russians have been fleeing the country en masse since last week’s announcement that the Kremlin was ordering 300,000 draftees into the war in Ukraine — where a demoralized Russian army has lost significant ground to a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive.

A Russian man prepares to make food beside his car while waiting in line at the border crossing into Georgia.

Flights out of the country have been sold out for days, and long lines of Russians have waited — on foot or in cars — to leave the country by land.

Security forces were dispatched to the North Ossetian crossing on Monday, sparking fears that the Kremlin would close the border to military-aged men.

Instead, Moscow has seemingly turned to enlisting Russians wherever they can find them — even if that’s on their way out of the country.

A long line of cars at the Russian-Georgian border
Cars wait in line on the road for the Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgian border

Along the Georgian border, some Russians have been waiting to cross for days. The regional North Ossetian government declared a state of “high alert” Wednesday, and called for food, water and warming stations to be brought in for those standing in line.

The Georgian government said some 78,000 Russians had entered the country since the mobilization was announced.

The government of Kazakhstan, another nation that shares a large southern border with Russia, said Tuesday that roughly 98,000 Russians had fled there.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said his government would aide Russians who had fled, and would not send draftees back across the border.

“We must take care of them and ensure their safety,” Tokayev said Tuesday. “It is a political and a humanitarian issue.” 

With Post wires

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