New Delhi: The Kremlin has reportedly ordered Russian airlines to stop selling air tickets out of the country to men between the ages of 18 and 65 unless they get permission from the Russian Defense Ministry. It comes amid reports that citizens are scrambling to board flights from Moscow to nearby Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan after President Vladimir Putin announced a regional military mobilization to ramp up his forces in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, about 300,000 civilians will be part of the mobilization and will receive their military training before being deployed.
Following the announcement, flights to nearby countries and Istanbul, which has become a major travel hub for Russia, were fully booked till Saturday.
According to Russian travel search site Aviasales, flight tickets to Yerevan and Belgrade are no longer available.
Notably, a day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced partial demobilization in Russia as Moscow loses ground in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
According to a report by news agency AP, Putin warned the West that “this is not a fool’s errand” and that Russia would use all means to defend its territory.
He also accused the West of engaging in “nuclear intimidation” and alleged that “there are statements by some high-level representatives of leading NATO countries about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia”.
Putin’s statement came a day after he announced plans to hold a referendum on the Russian-controlled areas of eastern and southern Ukraine to become integral parts of Russia.
There are reports that Russia has decided to take a desperate step to increase its troops to join its invasion of Ukraine.
According to The Guardian, the prisoners will receive a presidential pardon after six months and a salary of 100,000 rubles (£1,400) a month.