Russian citizens scramble to leave the country after Vladimir Putin declares a partial mobilization within the country to support the war in Ukraine.
According to major ticket services, such as Skyscanner and Aviasales, direct flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Turkey’s Istanbul, Armenia’s Yerevan and Georgia’s Tbilisi were sold out on September 21.
Multiple sources have reported that tickets disappeared during the night between September 20 and 21 while Russia was waiting for Putin’s address.
On September 20, 2022, the Russian-backed self-declared people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk have proposed referendums for annexation into Russia.
Following the statements, Russian media announced that Putin would address the nation in the evening of the same day.
Unconfirmed reports suggested that the announcement might include a declaration of full or partial mobilization within Russia to help its war effort against Ukraine.
Initially scheduled to take place at 20:00 MSK (5:00 PM GMT) on September 20, 2022, Putin’s address was delayed until the following morning due to unknown reasons.
As the morning of September 21 approached, reports of sold-out flights from Russia began to appear.
#Russians hurriedly buy direct tickets to #Yerevan, #Tbilisi, and #Istanbul. pic.twitter.com/Iic3ZIfp42
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) September 21, 2022
The price of available tickets also increased by up to ten times the original value.
The cheapest ticket one can buy from Moscow to Yerevan/Armenia is now $1400, where yesterday it was $150 pic.twitter.com/ojNkauairm
— Neil Hauer (@NeilPHauer) September 21, 2022
Ta det med en nypa salt för flygbiljetter med kort varsel är ju dyrare, men kollade snabbt hur priserna på flighter Moskva-Tbilisi ser ut och… https://t.co/dhHV4wXOaR pic.twitter.com/7RfFDYRKig
— Carl Fridh Kleberg (@FridhKleberg) September 21, 2022
At the same time, flights to Asian countries were sold out in Russia’s eastern regions. According to local media, flights from Siberia’s autonomous republic of Buryatia to neighboring Mongolia were also sold out overnight, with local tourism agencies bombarded with requests to sell additional tickets.
While the exact extent of Russia’s mobilization is currently unclear, the country’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 300,000 reservists will be drafted at first, with further mobilization campaigns possibly taking place “more than once”.