Russian men join exodus, fearing call-up to fight in Ukraine

ISTANBUL (AP) — Military-aged men fled Russia in droves Friday, filling planes and causing traffic jams at border crossings to avoid being rounded up to fight in Ukraine following the Kremlin’s partial military mobilization.

Queues stretching for 10 kilometers (6 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 on Feb. 24.

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.

Among those who reached Turkey was a 41-year-old who landed in Istanbul with a suitcase and a backpack and plans to start a new life in Israel.

“I’m against this war, and I’m not going to be a part of it. I’m not going to be a murderer. I’m not going to kill people,” said the man, who identified himself only as Yevgeny to avoid potential retribution against his family left behind in Russia.

He referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal.”

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