Vladimir Putin's announcement of a partial mobilisation to reinforce his troops in Ukraine sparked a rush on airline websites on Wednesday to try to leave Russia as soon as possible.The mobilisation initially concerns 300,000 reservists, but according to the Ministry of Defence, a total of 25 million Russians could be called up.
Searches in Russia for the terms "tickets" and "aeroplane" more than doubled from 08:00 CEST on Wednesday compared with the start of the week, according to the Google Trends statistical tool, which tracks how often a word was typed on Google.
The request "to leave Russia" was carried out 100 times more in the morning than in normal times.Tickets for direct flights to destinations closest to Russia -- Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan -- are all sold out for Wednesday, according to the Aviasales.ru site, very popular in Russia for buying their tickets.Meanwhile, flights from Russia to Istanbul -- which since the onset of Western sanctions have been one of the main routes out of the country -- with Turkish Airlines are sold out until Saturday.The next available flight with Air Serbia -- from Russia to Belgrade -- is not until Monday, 26 September.Domestic flights to cities close to the country's borders have also exploded.
Tickets from Moscow to Vladikavkaz near the border with Georgia have been costing €750, against around €70 normally. An online petition on the change.org site to denounce the mobilisation gathered 160,000 signatures in a few hours.Read more on euronews.com