The Kremlin has dispatched still more forces to shore up its faltering war effort, but the units are headed not to Ukraine but to Russia’s borders with other countries, where on Tuesday they were confronting young Russian men trying to join an exodus out of the country.
As the avenues for Russians to escape a draft order issued last week narrowed, the Federal Security Service sent armored vehicles to the frontiers, where some men waiting to flee were being served military call-up papers, the state news media reported.
The rush to the borders began within hours of President Vladimir V. Putin’s announcement last week of a military call-up affecting hundreds of thousands of Russians, and the flow has gotten only bigger since then. Though the Kremlin dismissed reports that it may soon forbid nearly all military-age men from leaving the country, many Russians were taking no chances.
On Tuesday, at the borders of Georgia, Kazakhstan and even Mongolia, their numbers continued to swell, at times raising tensions.
In Kazakhstan, responding to calls that the 4,600-mile border with Russia be closed, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev urged “humanity, patience and organization,” saying the Russians had been “forced to leave because of the current hopeless situation.”
With cars lined up for miles at its border and waits of more than 48 hours, Georgia said it would allow visitors to enter on foot. The number seeking entry almost doubled over the past week, to about 10,000 a day, the country’s interior minister said.
The forces of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the main successor agency to the K.G.B., were deployed at border crossings to ensure that reservists not leave the country “without completing border formalities,” the service said in a statement. [Continue reading…]