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21st Sep 2022

Russians pack only international flights out of Moscow after Putin orders partial mobilisation

Jack Peat

One-way flights out of the country are going for up to £1,500 apiece 

Russians are selling out the few international flights leaving the country, with one-way tickets going for up to £1,500 apiece.

President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation on Tuesday after Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops back toward the border.

He said 300,000 extra military personnel would be conscripted to fight the war, provoking mass panic among those of a fighting age.

Google Trends data seen by Reuters showed a spike in searches for Aviasales, which is Russia’s most popular website for purchasing flights.

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia, both destinations that allow Russians to enter without a visa, were almost sold out on Wednesday, according to the site data.

There were also reports of Russians fleeing to Georgia.

The Independent reviewed ticket purchasing options on the Aviasales website, and found that the cheapest flight to Yerevan as of 11am would set travellers back just over 82,000 roubles (£1,200), where yesterday the same ticket cost in the ball park of 8900 roubles (£130).

The cheapest flight to Istanbul – a nine hour trip requiring a stopover in Antalya – weighed in at 100,600 roubles (equivalent to almost £1,500).

Some other routes with stopovers, including those from Moscow to Tbilisi, were also unavailable, while the cheapest flights from the capital to Dubai were costing more than 300,000 roubles ($5,000) – about five times the average monthly wage.

On Tuesday, Putin warned western leaders that Moscow would use “all the means” at its disposal to “protect” itself, saying: “It’s not a bluff.”

In a national address, the president accused western leaders of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” against Moscow – and said he has “lots of weapons to reply.”

He also backed the call for referenda in eastern and southern Ukraine on becoming integral parts of Russia as he blamed the west for turning Ukrainians into “cannon fodder.”

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