Russian state carrier Aeroflot issued a statement saying there were no restrictions on ticket sales.
Russian state carrier Aeroflot issued a statement saying there were no restrictions on ticket sales.


Travel agency websites in Russia showed a dramatic increase on Wednesday in the demand for flights to destinations where Russians are not required to have a visa, following President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of the “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens to bolster his depleted forces in Ukraine.

Flight sales websites in Russia indicate that all direct flights to countries that do not require Russian visas are sold out through Friday at least.

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Yerevan in Armenia and Baku in Azerbaijan are among those that are full, according to ticket aggregator websites.

According to Google Trends, the term “leaving Russia” saw a sharp spike in searches among Russians over the past 24 hours.

Google Trends data also showed a sharp rise in Russians searching for “Aviasales” — a leading Russian flight sales engine. The number had quadrupled in 24 hours with most searches coming from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

According to Aviasales ticket aggregator, one-way tickets on Friday out of Moscow to Istanbul are starting at $2,715 per ticket. Before President Putin’s mobilization announcement, the tickets cost about $350.

Russian state carrier Aeroflot’s website showed that all economy class tickets to Armenia are sold out until September 28.

Aeroflot said in a statement: “Due to inquiries from passengers and the media, we would like to inform you that Aeroflot Group airlines are operating as usual. There are no restrictions on ticket sales.”

The spike in demand for flights out of the country followed Putin’s speech on Wednesday morning, an intervention which threatened to escalate his faltering invasion of Ukraine. The “partial mobilization” of citizens means those who are in the reserve could be called up, and those with military experience would be subject to conscription, Putin said.

The Russian president announced the "partial mobilization" in a speech on Wednesday.
The Russian president announced the “partial mobilization” in a speech on Wednesday. (AP)


Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Russian television Wednesday morning that 300,000 reservists would be called up.
Putin added that the relevant decree had already been signed and was in effect.

The flurry in online searches for flights out of Russia may indicate growing dissent over the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. On Monday, Russian pop legend Alla Pugacheva was the latest high-profile Russian to voice opposition to the war. She called for an end to Russian soldiers “dying for illusory aims that make our country a pariah.”

While Putin’s speech on Wednesday has serious implications for parts of the Russian population, it also sent further warning shots to the West. The President said he would use “all the means at our disposal,” and even raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons, if he deemed Russia’s “territorial integrity” to be threatened.

As reported by CNN