More than 200,000 Russian citizens have been drafted into the military following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization order last month.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the milestone Tuesday, partially addressing concerns that Putin’s regime planned to draft beyond the 300,000 troops initially called for, according to Reuters. The mobilization seeks to address significant Russian defeats in Ukraine.
While Putin verbally stated that only 300,000 men with prior military experience would be drafted, the text of his mobilization order did not include a number, nor did it specify that only those with military experience could be drafted.
Reports across Russia have seen citizens with no such experience receive conscription papers, leading to a mass exodus of military-age men.
Mongolia, Georgia and Kazakhstan have borne the brunt of the migration wave, with Georgia stating that daily border crossings nearly doubled in the week, falling Putin’s order. More than 100,000 men have fled to Kazakhstan alone.
“About four to five days ago, there were five to six thousand visitors [from Russia] daily, and now it has increased to about ten thousand,” Georgia Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told reporters last week.
Many of the men fleeing criticized Putin’s invasion effort, stating that they had no interest in going to war with Ukraine.
“There were a lot of young people, a lot of people trying to get away from Putin,” one man, Aleksey, who crossed the Mongolian border, told Reuters. Aleksey says he left behind his wife and two children and plans to return when the draft has passed.
“We are not afraid, but why do we have to fight in Ukraine, why?” he added. “If other countries would attack Russia, we would fight for our country. But why are we going to Ukraine? For what?”
The mobilization effort comes as Ukraine is making significant gains against Russian occupying forces. A Ukrainian counteroffensive in September saw the country regain thousands of square miles of its territory.
Ukrainian forces also regained key strongholds in the Kherson, Dontesk and Luhansk regions Monday, which Putin claimed to annex in an elaborate ceremony last week.