After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday a partial mobilization of reserve forces, many began to leave Russia to avoid enlisting in the military.
And data from airlines and travel agencies showed on Wednesday that flights departing from Russia were nearly fully booked this week, according to AFP.
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia would mobilize some 300,000 armed forces reservists after the Russian president warned in a televised speech that Russia would use all possible military means in Ukraine.
Tickets for direct flights to cities in neighboring countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan sold out on Wednesday, according to Aviacells, a popular website in Russia.
Similar to what happened with flights, a stuffy traffic jam was recorded on the borders of Russia and Georgia on the night from Wednesday to Thursday.
And Nexta tweeted a video on Thursday showing long lines of cars at the borders of the two countries and said, “Here’s what’s going on right now on the border between Russia and Georgia.”
For their part, Finnish border guards reported early on Thursday that traffic on the eastern border with Russia was “heavy”.
“The numbers are clearly on the rise,” Matti Petkaniti, head of international relations at the Finnish Border Guard, told Reuters.
“This is an exceptional number,” he continued, adding that the situation is under control and the border guards are ready at 9 checkpoints.
Turkish Airlines announced on its website that flights to Istanbul, which has become the main stop for travelers to and from Russia, are fully booked until Saturday.
Google data showed that searches in Russia for the words “tickets” and “airplane” more than doubled after 0600 GMT on Wednesday, after Putin’s speech began airing.
Google Trend data also showed that the term “leave Russia” has become 100 times more popular than in normal times.
Direct flights between Russia and the European Union have been banned after Putin announced what the Kremlin is calling a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The outbreak of hostilities raised fears among Russians that martial law could be imposed, and tens of thousands of them left for countries neighboring Russia, according to AFP.