Photo Credit: Sergei F
Russian recruits, December 4, 2018.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday declared a partial mobilization plan, which Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu clarified involves enlisting a total of 300,000 men, and only those who have already served in the army, primarily with combat experience and a military specialty. University students and conscripts are exempt, Putin promised, noting that the 300,000 figure represents only about 1% of Russia’s mobilization potential.
Russia’s population is estimated at 144.1 million as of 2020.

Putin signed the decree partially mobilizing the reserves saying Russian soldiers were facing the full force of the “collective West” which has been providing the Ukrainian forces with advanced weapons, training, and intelligence.

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DM Shoigu also told TASS that there are no plans to send the 300,000 conscripts to the war in Ukraine, they will all continue to serve on Russian territory. And if you buy that, there’s a bridge on the Dnieper I’d like to sell you.

But Haaretz correspondent Liza Rozovsky reported Wednesday morning that the Russian opposition and human rights organizations in the country and abroad cast doubt on Putin’s promises that the recruitment will be limited to people who have served in the army in the past and who have a military specialty. They also don’t believe the reassuring message sent by DM Shoigu, that students can continue their studies “calmly” without fear of conscription.

Furthermore, people who read the draft order published by the Kremlin on its website said it was missing one section, section 7, which may be a secret item that allows the partial draft to be turned into a full draft at any time.

But Russians didn’t need human rights groups to tell them the president was lying. As of Wednesday morning, all flights out of Russia were sold out, as hordes of Russians were trying to flee their country.

According to Russian news outlet RBC, there are no seats available through Friday on flights to countries that do not require Russian citizens to present a visa.

Avi Scharf tweeted there are no tickets left on El Al’s daily Moscow-Tel Aviv flight until the end of October, and the price is $2,000 one way.

A Russian attorney working for human rights groups told Rozovsky that the president and his DM are lying. “Anyone who owes reserve service can be drafted,” he said. “We are talking about all the men from the age of 27 to 50 who did not serve in the army. Women with military professions––mainly nurses––are also obliged to enlist.”

EU politicians saw today’s Putin’s move as a sign of his weakness and growing fear. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “It’s all a sign of panic. His rhetoric on nuclear weapons is something we have heard many times before, and it leaves us cold. It is all part of the rhetoric we know. I would advise remaining calm.”

Belgian PM Alexander de Croo, also urged calm, saying: “We must not add fuel to the fire.”

European Council President Charles Michel urged continued support for Ukraine, saying, “In this war, there is only one aggressor, Russia, and one aggressed country, Ukraine. EU’s support to Ukraine will remain steadfast.”

On Monday this week, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia banned Russian nationals from entering their countries on land and said they planned to extend the ban to Russians traveling by air and sea by next Monday, September 26.

Putin’s opposition, including journalists and politicians, on Wednesday criticized the Baltic states and Poland for their move and suggested Putin waited for September 19 to make his announcement, knowing that escape for most Russians would be difficult, if not impossible.

Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, a leader of American Russian Jewry, told Kikar Hashabat earlier in September that while Ukrainian Jews are fleeing their country because of the war, Russian Jews these days attempt to escape fearing that their country would turn into a “North Korea,” as he put it, adding, “This Aliyah will go on and on, this is just the beginning. We are talking about hundreds of thousands who will continue to arrive in Israel. If there’s a warm welcome, the thousands who came here and have had a good Aliyah experience will bring many of their friends along.”

According to TASS, Russian exempts from military mobilization citizens who are determined by the government to be temporarily unfit for service for health reasons, single fathers and fathers with many children, guardians or trustees of underage brothers and sisters, and several other categories.

Good luck, brothers and sisters.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.