Russian President Vladimir Putin announces plans to mobilise up to 300,000 military reservists to fight in Ukraine after Russian forces lose ground. Thousands of Russians have tried to leave the country after the announcement. Photo by Kremlin POOL/ UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/2bb1d9e9cd08666c8853182a442b2477/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Russian President Vladimir Putin announces plans to mobilise up to 300,000 military reservists to fight in Ukraine after Russian forces lose ground. Thousands of Russians have tried to leave the country after the announcement. Photo by Kremlin POOL/ UPI | License Photo

Sept. 23 (UPI) — Thousands of Russians are fleeing the country after President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of civilians into the military for his war in Ukraine.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered 300,000 troops to be called up immediately on Wednesday. The Kremlin has increased penalties for refusal of service or desertion to 10 years in prison.

After this announcement, many men of conscription age have attempted to leave the county. Footage obtained by Radio Free Europe showed long lines of cars and trucks at the Zemo Larsi crossing into Georgia. Russian citizen Ivan, who did not want to give his full name, told RFE that the crossing took 12 hours.

Finnish border guards said that the traffic from Russia has more than doubled in the past 48 hours, and long border lines were also reported in Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that Germany would offer protection to Russians on a case-by-case basis.

NPR reported that tickets for to countries with visa-free travel such as Armenia and Turkey – are either sold out or have soared in price.

Avtozak Live, a volunteer human rights monitoring group, reported as many as nine arson attacks had been carried out on military recruitment centers or government buildings across Russia.

The Russian government denied that people are fleeing the mobilization. “The information about the hype at airports and so on is very much exaggerated … There is a lot of fake information about this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.

After some companies complained that the draft could affect their ability to operate, Russian Ministry of Defense announced Friday that men with certain white-collar jobs in banking, I.T. and telecommunications will not be called up to join the war effort.

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