A day after President Vladimir Putin announced in a social media video from Russia’s land borders with several countries, long lines of traffic are trying to leave the country.
There were queues at border crossings in Kazakhstan, Georgia and Mongolia. A video showed dozens of vehicles lined up at the Zemo Larsi/Varkhni Larsi checkpoint on the Georgia-Russia border on Wednesday night. The line seems to have gotten longer on Thursday. A video shows a long line in the mountains behind the crossing, with one man commenting that it is five to six kilometers long.
Another posted on Thursday showed long lines at the Khekta crossing in Mongolia.
A man spoke on video recorded at the Trisk crossing in Kazakhstan, where dozens of cars were lined up on Thursday morning. “It’s treacherous, lines of trucks and passenger cars … you can’t see the beginning or the end of the line … everybody, everybody is fleeing Russia.”
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported early Thursday that a senior Kazakh official, Molin Ashambayev, said Kazakhstan could not ban Russian citizens from entering the country. But Ishimbayev, speaker of the Kazakh parliament’s upper house, said applicants must have a set of documents required by law to obtain a residence permit.
In the absence of official data, it is difficult to compare current traffic flows with averages.
Flights from Russia to countries that do not require a visa are very busy and often sold out. A search on the Aviasales website showed that as of Sunday there were no seats available on Moscow-Istanbul one-way economy flights – the lowest priced of which are around $2,900.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday dismissed reports of crowds at airports trying to leave Russia after the announcement, calling them “exaggerations” and “fake news”.