Turkey expects new influx of Russians after Putin announces partial mobilization

Large numbers of Russians rushed to countries where they can enter visa-free on Wednesday, with Turkey among the most popular, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization for war in Ukraine, according to reports. media.

Putin said in a pre-recorded nationwide address on Wednesday that he would mobilize reservists who have combat and service experience and that the number of those called up for active duty would be determined by the Defense Ministry.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu later said that 300,000 reservists would initially be called up.

Although Russian officials have sought to calm the public about the appeal by stressing that it will affect a limited number of people who meet certain criteria, conflicting statements and a lack of detail have helped fuel panic among Russians. .

According to an Al-Monitor report on Wednesday, the price of international flights from Russia to countries such as Turkey, Serbia, Albania and Georgia, where Russians can enter without a visa, jumped hours after the Putin’s announcement.

The cost of a one-way ticket from Moscow to Istanbul ranges from $1,500 to $4,000, up more than 100%, Al-Monitor said, citing Google Flights search data, adding that all flights Turkish airlines, including the national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines and low-cost carrier Pegasus were booked until Sunday.

Tickets for Moscow-Belgrade flights operated by Air Serbia, the only European carrier along with Turkish Airlines to maintain flights to Russia despite an embargo on flights from the European Union, have sold out quickly for the next few days, also The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, adding that the fare for flights from Moscow to Istanbul and Dubai rose within minutes before jumping again, reaching as high as 9,200 euros ($9,119) for a one-way economy class ticket. .

A Serbia-based group called “Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Serbs together against war” tweeted that there were no flights available to Belgrade from Russia until mid-October. Flights to Turkey, Georgia and Armenia also sold out, according to the Belgrade-based group.

Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Duma’s defense committee, said there would be no additional restrictions for reservists leaving Russia on the basis of mobilization, but advised people who might be eligible for the call not to “go to resorts in Turkey”.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the number of Russians fleeing to Turkey has increased dramatically, with thousands, especially young and white-collar Russians, pouring into the country’s major cities, including Istanbul. , Izmir and Antalya, mainly for traveling in Europe.

Although the amount foreigners have to pay for a property to qualify for Turkish citizenship rose from $250,000 to $400,000 in April, Russian nationals topped the list of foreign buyers in Turkey for the first time in May with over 1,000 sales.

The influx has also prompted Turkish banks to start using Russia’s national payment system, known as Mir, for Russians who cannot use their credit cards due to sanctions. However, two Turkish banks announced that they had stopped using the system following the announcement by the US Treasury of an extension of sanctions for financial institutions using Mir.

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