Russians flee to Kazakhstan to avoid call-up for war in Ukraine

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Long queues have been building up at the Vishnevka border crossing from Russia to Kazakhstan as thousands continue to flee a possible call-up for the war in Ukraine.

About 98,000 Russians have crossed into Kazakhstan in the week since President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation of reservists.

Those willing to testify are unambiguous about their motives for travelling.

“The mobilisation was announced as partial, but according to the documents it appears to be full,” says one man who chose not to give his name. “And the president’s words do not correspond to what is written on the paper. The people standing here are afraid that sooner or later, a full mobilisation will be announced, and then no one will be able to cross the borders.”

Some too are travelling by train – the price of taxis to the border has become unaffordable for most. Kazakhstan has promised not to send them back.

“The territorial integrity of states must be inviolable,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kazakhstan’s president. “This is the key principle. I have always spoken about this openly and clearly in the international arena.”

Tokayev also said Kazakhstan won’t recognise the referendums in Ukraine’s occupied territories – a defiant stand from a country that’s traditionally been seen as an ally of Moscow.