Queues stretching for six miles formed on a road leading to the southern border with Georgia as thousands try to flee from mobilisation. ITV News correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports
The Kremlin last week announced a partial mobilisation to add at least 300,000 troops to its force in Ukraine in the run-up to the votes in the occupied regions.
The move, a sharp shift from Vladimir Putin’s previous efforts to portray the war as a limited military operation that wouldn’t interfere with most Russians’ lives, proved extremely unpopular at home.On Monday, a young man entered a military enlistment office in the Siberian city of Ust-Ilimsk and shot the military commandant at close range.
Russian media reports claimed the man walked into the facility saying "no one will go to fight" and "we will all go home now."
Local authorities said the military commandant was in intensive care, without elaborating.
The man, identified in the media as 25-year-old local resident, was reportedly upset that a call-up notice was served to his best friend who didn’t have any combat experience – which the authorities have said is the main criteria for the draft.
Since the announcement of the mobilisation, there has been a huge wave of Russian trying to flee abroad amid speculation the Kremlin could ban men of working age from leaving the country.
Queues stretching for six miles formed on a road leading to the southern border with Georgia, according to Yandex Maps, a Russian online map service.The lines of cars were so long at the border with Kazakhstan that some people abandoned their vehicles and proceeded on foot - just as some Ukrainians did after Russia invaded their country in February.
Meanwhile, dozens of flights out of Russia - with tickets sold at sky-high prices - carried men to international destinations such as Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Serbia, where Russians don’t need visas.The Kremlin said on Monday that no decisions had been taken on closing Russia's borders, amid an exodus of military-age men.
Asked about the possibility of border closures in a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "I don't know anything about this. At the moment, no decisions have been taken on this."
On Monday, a senior lawmaker said that Russian borders should be closed to draft-eligible men amid the exodus.
"Everyone who is of conscription age should be banned from travelling abroad in the current situation," Sergei Tsekov, a member of Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, told RIA news agency.
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Russian media based abroad, including news sites Meduza and Novaya Gazeta Europe, have reported that the Kremlin is planning to close the country's borders for draft-aged men.
Such reports have not appeared on the main media within Russia, where all independent outlets have been shut and reporting that differs from official accounts is banned.On Sunday, Novaya Gazeta reported that 261,000 men had left the country since partial mobilisation was declared, citing an unnamed source in Russia's presidential administration.Russian lawyer Pavel Chikov, who advises on conscription cases, said the Federal Security Service had begun stopping men from leaving the country on the orders of military commissariats.
He posted photos of two notices handed out at different crossings on the border with Kazakhstan in his Telegram channel over the weekend.
The British Defence Ministry said tens of thousands had been called up so far and were beginning to receive basic training.
The one EU country that is still accepting Russians is Finland, with their border guards saying on Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday said the Russian mobilisation was a sign of weakness: “They admitted that their army is not able to fight with Ukraine anymore.”Russian authorities tried to calm an anxious public about the draft.
Legislators introduced a bill on Friday that would suspend or reduce loan payments for Russians called up for duty.
News outlets emphasised that draftees would have the same status as professional soldiers and be paid the same, and that their civilian jobs would be held for them.