Putin mobilizes 300,000 reservists for Ukraine fight
RUSSIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine and said Moscow would respond with the might of all its vast arsenal if the West pursued what he called its “nuclear blackmail” over the conflict there.
It was Russia’s first such mobilization since the second World War and signified a major escalation of the war, now in its seventh month.
It followed recent setbacks for Russian forces, who have been driven from areas they had captured in northeast Ukraine in a Ukrainian counter-offensive this month and are bogged down in the south.
In a televised address to the Russian nation, Putin said: “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people — this is not a bluff.” Russia had “lots of weapons to reply,” he said.
Russia’s defense minister said the partial mobilization would see 300,000 reservists called up and would apply to those with previous military experience.
Meanwhile, one-way flights out of Russia were rocketing in price and selling out fast on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists.
Google Trends data showed a spike in searches for Aviasales, Russia’s most popular flight-booking site. Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia, both destinations that allow Russians to enter without a visa, were sold out on Wednesday, according to Aviasales data.
Typical one-way fares to Turkey shot up to almost 70,000 roubles ($1,150), compared with a little over 22,000 roubles a week ago, Google Flights data shows.
– THE BANGKOK POST