Czech Government Will Not Issue Humanitarian Visa to Russians Fleeing Mobilisation

The Czech Republic will not issue humanitarian visas to Russian citizens fleeing mobilisation orders, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said on Thursday.

Many Russians are trying to leave their country after President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilisation on Wednesday as Russian forces fighting in Ukraine have suffered heavy losses.

“I understand that Russians are fleeing from ever more desperate decisions by Putin. But those running because they don’t want to fulfill a duty imposed by their own government, they don’t meet the criteria for humanitarian visa,” Lipavsky told Reuters.

His stance was in line with that of fellow European Union members Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which border Russia, who said on Wednesday that they would not offer refuge to any Russians fleeing Moscow’s mobilisation of troops.

One-way flights out of Russia were rocketing in price and selling out fast after Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists.

Finland said on Thursday it was considering barring most Russians from entering the country as traffic across the border from its eastern neighbour “intensified” following Putin’s mobilisation order.

The European Commission stated earlier on Thursday that it is up to each individual EU member state whether they decide to accept people coming from Russia onto their territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of reservists as his country faces setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine. The move, announced in an address to his nation on Wednesday, marks Russia’s first military mobilization since World War II.

What does partial mobilization mean?

Partial mobilization is a term for when specific groups of people will be called up to serve in Russia’s armed forces. It is different from a general mobilization, which involves drafting from the general population, refocusing the entire economy and essentially setting the whole country on a warpath, hitting a pause on normalcy.

How many Russian reservists will be called up by Putin?

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday following Putin’s address that Russia would call as many as 300,000 reservists to military service. Russians have reportedly already begun to receive notices summoning them to appear for service.

Shoigu said the country’s “mobilization resource amounts to 25 million people, and a little more than 1 percent of this number falls under partial mobilization” as ordered by Putin.

If true, this is a significant increase: Russia is believed to have invaded Ukraine with about 150,000 troops in late February — so an additional 300,000 is more than double that. While it’s unclear how exactly the reservists would be deployed, Putin’s move follows reports of heavy troop losses in Ukraine. It would be the first military mobilization in the history of modern Russia.

Why would Russia need a partial mobilization?

Moscow is facing a significant troop shortage, despite recent recruitment efforts that have included enlisting prisoners and sending volunteers to the front lines with little training, analysts said. “Putin likely hopes to improve Russian force generation capabilities by calling on the Russian people to volunteer for a war to ‘defend’ newly claimed Russian territory,” the Institute for the Study of War said of the annexation plans.

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