Russia is suffering from a ‘brain drain’ as the well-educated and rich flee conscription

ZEMO LARSI, GEORGIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Travelers walking on the road from Verkhni Lars customs checkpoint between Georgia and Russia on September 28, 2022 in Zemo Larsi, Georgia.  On September 21, President Putin announced what he described as a partial mobilization of Russian army reservists to fight in Ukraine with 300,000 men to be called up, and since then Russians have been fleeing to neighboring countries.  (Photo by Daro Sulakauri/Getty Images)

Around 261,000 men fled the country between Wednesday and Saturday night (Image: Daro Sulakauri/Getty Images)

Russia is likely to face significant problems due to the number of men fleeing the country to avoid being called up for combat.

Thousands of men have crossed the borders in recent days after Putin announced a ‘partial mobilisation’ of 300,000 army reservists, sparking fears a million could be drafted.

The British Ministry of Defense said people who were better off and the well-educated were the first to leave.

The ministry said: “When combined with the reservists being mobilized, the domestic economic impact of reduced labor availability and the acceleration of the ‘brain drain’ is likely to become increasingly significant.”

It was also announced that the number of people who have left over the past seven days ‘probably exceeds the size of the total invasion force Russia fielded in February 2022’.

A Kremlin source told Novaya Gazeta Europe that 261,000 men had been evacuated between Wednesday and Saturday.

The source said: ‘The atmosphere in the administration is such that security forces and the Ministry of Defense will be able to persuade Putin to close the exits before it is too late.’

epa10213500 Relatives of Russian conscripts near a recruitment office during Russia's partial military mobilization in Moscow, Russia, September 29, 2022. Russian President Putin announced in a televised address to the nation on September 21 that he signed a decree on partial mobilization in the Russian Federation due to the conflict in Ukraine.  Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said 300,000 people would be called up for service as part of the move.  EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

The mass exodus came as Putin mobilized 300,000 reservists (Image: EPA)

Images of people dragging suitcases along the road in an attempt to escape have also emerged, with flights out of the country rising in price to the extent that a ticket to neighboring Armenia now costs £1,000.

A Kremlin spokesman acknowledged irregularities in their mobilization efforts but shifted the blame to local authorities.

Dmitri Peskov, one of Putin’s main propagandists, said: ‘There are cases where the decree has been violated. In some regions, governors are actively working to rectify the situation.

The price of air tickets rose dramatically, with a ticket to nearby Armenia costing £1,000 (Image: Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP)

epa10213481 A woman says goodbye to a Russian conscript man at a recruitment office during Russia's partial military mobilization in Moscow, Russia, September 29, 2022. Russian President Putin announced in a televised address to the nation on September 21 that he signed a decree on partial mobilization in the Russian Federation due to the conflict in Ukraine.  Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said 300,000 people would be called up for service as part of the move.  EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

It is feared that one million men will be called up to fly (Image: EPA)

“These cases of non-compliance with the required criteria are being eliminated and we hope that the elimination rate will increase and all errors will be corrected.”

Meanwhile, Western Europe is debating whether to offer sanctuary to those fleeing conscription.

Senators in France have argued that Europe has a duty to help, and failure to do so will feed into Putin’s narrative about the bloc.

A group of more than 40 senators said: ‘Closing borders would not fit with our values ​​or our interests.’

epa10213460 A Russian conscript says goodbye to relatives at a recruitment office during Russia's partial military mobilization in Moscow, Russia, September 29, 2022. Russian President Putin announced in a televised address to the nation on September 21 that he signed a decree on partial mobilization in the Russian Federation due to the conflict in Ukraine.  Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said 300,000 people would be called up for service as part of the move.  EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

A Kremlin spokesman has acknowledged ‘irregularities’ in the mobilization effort but blamed local authorities (Image: EPA)

Other government officials, however, are far more reluctant to let Russians through their borders.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgard Rinkevics tweeted: ‘They were fine with killing Ukrainians, they didn’t protest then.’

He also said they cannot be considered conscientious objectors as they did not act when Russia invaded Ukraine.

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