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Russia’s War in Ukraine

Video on social media from Russia’s land border with several countries shows long lines of vehicles trying to leave the country the day after President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial maneuver”.

There were many people queuing at the border crossings to Kazakhstan, Georgia and Mongolia. A video shows dozens of vehicles lining up at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Georgia-Russia border on Wednesday night. That line appeared to have gotten longer on Thursday. One video showed a long line extending to the mountains behind the crossing, with one man commenting that it was between five and six kilometers long.

Another article published on Thursday showed long lines at the Khaykhta passageway into Mongolia.

A man speaks through video recorded at the Troitsk to Kazakhstan junction, where dozens of cars lined up Thursday morning. “This is Troitsk, the queue for trucks and buses… you can’t see the beginning or the end of this queue… people, people fleeing Russia, all sorts.”

A senior Kazakhstan official, Maulen Ashimbaev, said Kazakhstan cannot restrict the entry of Russian citizens into the country, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Thursday. But Ashimbaev, a spokesman for Kazakhstan’s upper house, said that in order to obtain a residence permit, an applicant must have a set of legal compliance documents.

It is difficult to compare current traffic with averages in the absence of official data.

Flights from Russia to countries without a visa continue to be very busy and often sold out. A search on the Aviasales website shows there are no seats available on Moscow-Istanbul economy one-way flights until Sunday – with prices as low as nearly $2,900.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday dismissed reports of airports being packed with people trying to leave Russia after the announcement, calling it “exaggeration” and “fake news”.

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