Queues build up at Mongolian border as people flee Russia call-up

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 26 2022 09:42 AM

Mongolian border
People arriving from Russia wait at the Mongolian border checkpoint of Altanbulag on September 25, 2022, after the Kremlin announced a partial mobilisation for the war in Ukraine. The borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia have been overwhelmed an influx of Russian nationals, with reports of people sometimes waiting several hours before being able to cross. BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR / AFP

ALTANBULAG, Mongolia - Long lines of vehicles were seen at a border crossing between Mongolia and Russia on Sunday as people fled the Kremlin's call-up of hundreds of thousands of reservists for the war in Ukraine.

The head of a checkpoint in the town of Altanbulag told AFP that more than 3,000 Russians had entered Mongolia via the crossing since Wednesday, most of them men.

Queues of people holding Russian passports were also seen outside the immigration counter for the border crossing, according to an AFP reporter there.

"From September 21, the number of Russian citizens entering Mongolia has increased," checkpoint head Major G. Byambasuren told AFP.

"As of 12:00 (noon) today, more than 3,000 Russian citizens have entered Mongolia."

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced Russia's first military call-up of fighting-age men since World War II.

It is designed to fill Russia's army with hundreds of thousands of men after a string of setbacks that appears to have altered the tide in the seven-month Ukraine war.

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Byambasuren said about 2,500 of the Russians crossing the border were men while more than 500 were women and children.

"Most of them are single young people who crossed the border with their parents," he added.

Russian policemen
Russian policemen move in to detain participants of an unauthorized protest against the partial mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists due to the conflict in Ukraine, in central St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday. Anatoly Maltsev, EPA-EFE

Russian nationals can visit Mongolia and stay without a visa for 30 days, and extend their stay by another 30 days if needed, Byambasuren said.

Authorities on Saturday detained more than 700 people at protests across Russia against the partial military mobilisation, according to an independent monitoring group.

Police monitor OVD-Info counted at least 726 people detained at rallies in 32 cities, nearly half of them in Moscow.

A stream of Russians were also seen flocking by air to Istanbul on Saturday where several expressed relief at escaping but also concern for the safety of loved ones left behind.

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