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An Astounding Number Of Russians Are Crossing The Borders To Flee Putin’s Draft (While He’s Absurdly Planning An Annexation Celebration)

Leaked phone calls from Russian soldiers (as recently compiled in a massive trove by The New York Times) have revealed what many people suspected about Putin’s Ukraine invasion. His soldiers were drop-shipped with very little preparation, and in many cases, they didn’t know that they were embarking upon what Putin calls a “special operation” until the day before it happened. Video footage also revealed that food and medical supplies essentially don’t exist, and soldiers are being told to bring tampons to treat their own bullet wounds.

It’s no wonder, then, that men of fighting age are fleeing Russia (and it’s chaotic at the airports) following Putin’s announcement to call up 300,000 reservists. Given that half of Putin’s army died by late July during this conflict, the natural fear is the draft will soon include civilians, and that’s why traffic is flowing at Russian borders. CNN reports that the Lars border crossing has seen 10,000 Russians per day following Putin’s draft announcement, and the Washington Post says that at least 180,000 Russians (and probably more) have fled to three nearby countries:

The emerging scale of the exodus — more than 180,000 Russians have fled just to three neighboring countries, with the full tally likely much higher — has raised questions about the Kremlin’s ability to sustain its war effort. As more Russians cross the border, escaping the restrictions imposed by Putin’s government, they are providing a glimpse of alienation and unease spreading back home.

This doesn’t account for the Russians who have hopped on airplanes and left the continent or those who have gone unrecorded in the chaos. In the meantime, Putin is somehow seeing success in Ukraine even though the New York Times revealed how the army won’t be able to take Kyiv, only individual villages in Ukraine. Still, Putin scheduled a “grandstand ceremony” for Friday, according to Business Insider, when he’ll formally annex four regions. Here’s the official word via Reuters:

Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Friday begin formally annexing 15% of Ukrainian territory, presiding at a ceremony in the Kremlin to declare four Ukrainian regions part of Russia.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the ceremony would take place at 3 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Friday in the St George’s (Georgievsky) Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace to sign “agreements on the accession of new territories into the Russian Federation”.

There appear to be some “Baghdad Bob” vibes going on with this announcement. There’s also no telling how Putin plans to further staff this war if able-bodied men (of fighting age) leave Russia in droves. Meanwhile, Finland has closed off its border to Russian tourists, but the Financial Times reports that Georgia and Kazakhstan are among the countries that welcome fleeing Russians with open arms.

(Via CNN, Washington Post, The New York Times, Reuters, Business Insider & Financial Times)