As Russian troops stormed into Ukraine last February, sending millions of Ukrainians fleeing for their lives, thousands of Russians also raced to pack their bags and leave home, fearing the Kremlin would shut the borders and impose martial law.
Some had long opposed rising authoritarianism, and the invasion was a last straw. Others were driven by economic interest, to preserve livelihoods or escape the bite of sanctions. Then, last autumn, a military mobilization spurred hundreds of thousands of men to run.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war has set off a historic exodus of his own people. Initial data shows that at least 500,000, and perhaps nearly 1 million, have left in the year since the invasion began — a tidal wave on scale with emigration following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
Now, as then, the departures stand to redefine the country for generations. And the flood may still be in its early stages. The war seems nowhere near finished. Any new conscription effort by the Kremlin will spark new departures, as will worsening economic conditions, which are expected as the conflict drags on.
The huge outflow has swelled existing Russian expatriate communities across the world, and created new ones.
Some fled nearby to countries like Armenia and Kazakhstan, across borders open to Russians. Some with visas escaped to Finland, the Baltic states or elsewhere in Europe. Others ventured farther, to the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Thailand, Argentina. Two men from Russia’s Far East even sailed a small boat to Alaska. [Continue reading…]
The United States has told its citizens to leave Russia immediately due to the war in Ukraine and the risk of arbitrary arrest or harassment by Russian law enforcement agencies.
“U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately,” the U.S. embassy in Moscow said. “Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions.”
“Do not travel to Russia,” it added.
“Russian security services have arrested U.S. citizens on spurious charges, singled out U.S. citizens in Russia for detention and harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and convicted them in secret trials or without presenting credible evidence,” the embassy said.
“Russian authorities arbitrarily enforce local laws against U.S. citizen religious workers and have opened questionable criminal investigations against U.S. citizens engaged in religious activity.” [Continue reading…]