Russian flights have quickly sold out following Vladimir Putin’s latest speech. The Kremlin leader this morning ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists. This is Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two.
One-way flights out of Russia sold out fast after Putin’s announcement raised fears that some fighting-age men might not be allowed to leave the country, according to reports.
Aviasales data seen by Reuters showed that direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey were sold out this morning.
The same was true for Yerevan in Armenia.
Russians are permitted to enter both these countries without a visa.
Google Trends data also showed a spike in searches for Aviasales, Russia’s most popular flights-purchasing website.
Samuel Ramani, Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, described this as “a sign of flagging morale” in Russia.
The quick sale of non-return flights came despite the limits placed on those expected to be called up.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said this would be limited to those with experience as professional soldiers.
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The West has been quick to respond that Putin’s latest decision is a sign of his failing “operation”.
UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace insisted: “No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community are united and Russia is becoming a global pariah.”
Mobilisation of the additional troops will begin immediately.
Putin also warned the West of the risk of a nuclear conflict should it continue “cross the line”.
He said: “In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line. This is not a bluff.
“And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them.”
This has been described as the biggest escalation of the war since the February 24 invasion.